NEW DELHI: At a time when Amazon and Walmart are opting for drones to make package deliveries, homegrown e-commerce firm Snapdeal has turned to robots to make last-mile deliveries to customers to ensure contactless deliveries.
In collaboration with autonomous mobility start-up Ottonomy IO, Snapdeal has successfully tested last-mile delivery using robots in select locations of Delhi-NCR.
The delivery robots were stationed at the entrance of residential societies, wherein the delivery agent scanned a QR code and placed the package inside.
Equipped with the society's map, the robot navigated to reach the consumer, Snapdeal said in a statement.
"The orders placed by users were delivered in the last mile by a robot with the package sanitised on the way. The contactless delivery of a sanitised packet is an initiative by the firms to make e-commerce deliveries safer for its users," it added.
Ottonomy IO has developed delivery robots for autonomous last-mile and local deliveries.
The robots can run along sidewalks and local streets autonomously to deliver orders to nearby homes.
It uses specialised artificial intelligence algorithms to navigate crowded areas.
These robots use machine learning, fuse data from 3D Lidar and cameras to have a robust understanding of the external world, the statement said.
Recently, Walmart announced its partnership with Zipline to launch a delivery service of select health and wellness products in the US.
It has also announced a pilot project for delivery of grocery and household products through automated drones in collaboration with Flytrex.
Amazon has similar plans for making deliveries using drones.
Snapdeal said the robots navigate to reach the consumer as they are programmed with the layout of the delivery areas.
Once the delivery robot arrives at the doorstep, the customer receives an alert.
Through a unique QR code sent to the user, the hold area of the robot can be unlocked and the customer can retrieve their order.
Since the delivery robots can carry multiple orders at a time, the QR code used by the customer only unlocks the specific package hold area that contains the order placed by the user.
The statement said these autonomous delivery robots are equipped with ultraviolet lighting to disinfect the packet while navigating to the delivery location.
The robots can be remotely monitored and controlled whenever there is human intervention needed.
Contactless autonomous delivery of goods with an in-built disinfection feature is the first-of-its-kind initiative globally in e-commerce.
"We are investing heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop future-oriented capabilities.
Delivery via robots is part of the evolving future of logistics and we are excited to partner with Ottonomy IO to test these technologies," a Snapdeal spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that delivery robots will have a unique role to play in e-commerce deliveries in large townships, institutional campuses and other managed residential environments.
The spokesperson also said contactless delivery via robotic vehicles is a step in building a safer and convenient future for shoppers.
"Contactless delivery is the need of the hour to ensure shopper safety and enhanced experience.
Automating the last-mile delivery process and clubbing it with contactless interaction help address safety concerns of both shoppers and delivery professionals," said Ritukar Vijay, co-founder of Ottonomy IO.
He added that with an extensive experience of the team Ottonomy IO around robotics and autonomous vehicles, the company is confident that this technology will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of ecommerce deliveries.
"Following the success of the experiment, we look forward to scaling it globally," he said.