The Greek city of Trikala will be the first in Europe to pilot fully automated ‘delivery droids’ in the city center.
The project is a collaboration of e-Trikala, the University Research Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (EPISEY) and the University of Genova, Italy in the context of the European program SHOW.
For their first task, the droids started at the “Elves’ Mill,” delivering letters written by children from the Elves’ Post Office to “Father Christmas.”
Their next task will be to negotiate the pedestrianized road of Asklipiou in the city center to deliver mail, newspapers, and small packages from suppliers to local shops.
Droids in Trikala recognize obstacles
According to the municipality, the “droids” are trained through the use of lasers and a charted route to not only move along a preset course but also recognize obstacles in their path, modifying their movements according to the movement of pedestrians, bicycles, and other unpredictable barriers they may encounter.
The aim of the pilot project is to test whether they can be used as a solution for the transportation of goods in city centers, taking into account traffic, time, electrical load, and other technical data.
Similar droids are already used inside controlled, indoor spaces and the aim is to see whether they can be used in a normal urban environment with many unpredictable factors.
The city of Trikala has become a technology hub. Recently, it became the first Greek city to complete a successful test of delivering medicinal drugs via an unmanned drone. The red drone, with four rotor blades, took off from the northwestern city of Trikala and flew three kilometers (1,8 miles) to Leptokarya to deliver its cargo.
The drone made two stops, landing outside a pharmacy and in a farmer’s field. A pharmacy staff member unloaded the medicine from a storage compartment on the drone, and it took off again.
“These are not science fiction scenes,” stated the mayor of Trikala and president of the Greek Municipalities Association, Dimitris Papastergiou, regarding the trial. “These are moments from the future, and not too distant future, of our daily lives, how we can [manage] during emergencies to transport essential items, such as medicines,” he added.
International project for sustainable urban mobility
The delivery robots are constructed by the Italian firm YAPE.
According to the YAPE website, the company aims to support the deployment of shared, connected and electrified urban transport automation to advance sustainable urban mobility.
During the project, real-life urban demonstrations taking place in twenty cities across Europe will see the integration of fleets of automated vehicles in public transport, demand-responsive transport (DRT), Mobility a Service (MaaS), and Logistics as a Service (LaaS) schemes.
SHOW aims to be the biggest and most holistic initiative ever piloting automated vehicles in urban environments. It gathers a strong partnership including sixty-nine partners from thirteen EU countries and fosters international cooperation by collaborating with organizations from the US, South Korea, Australia, China, and other countries.