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Malaga to become first Spanish city to test pilot robot delivery scheme

Chris Orejuela with one of the robots to be used.
Chris Orejuela with one of the robots to be used. / SUR
  • The company HappyBox will be using at least five robots developed by an Estonian company to deliver parcels ordered by customers

The Malaga branch of HappyBox, a company which specialises in express deliveries for businesses, including food, will take part in a pilot scheme this spring which involves using robots.

At least five of these autonomous robots will arrive in Malaga from the Estonian company Starship Technologies accompanied by an engineer who will help "teach" them to do their job.

Malaga will be the fourth city in the world to take part, with the scheme already set up in Tallinn, San Francisco and London.

The robots will operate in the pedestrian zone of the city's historic centre, with a delivery time of between 15 and 20 minutes.

Typically weighing around 18 kilogrammes, they will be able to deliver parcels as heavy as ten kilogrammes, and although they have the capacity to move at a speed of 16 kilometres per hour, that will be reduced to ten during the experimental period so that they can keep pace with pedestrians. Their operating range is around ten kilometres and their batteries last around five hours.

The robots will also be fitted with GPS systems, optical cameras, accelerometers and ultrasonic sensors, which will allow them eventually to move about autonomously in a designated area of the city.

However, the first step will involve an engineer helping them create a map of the area, which they will need before they are able to move around without any help. In Malaga, therefore, the engineer will be accompanying the machines during their first few deliveries.

The robots will be connected to the platform HappyBox uses to manage all of its deliveries, with a few slight changes.

When an order from a customer comes through, the address and the time it has to arrive at its destination is transmitted to the robot. Once the machine has arrived at its destination, the customer will be sent an unlock code which will allow them to open the compartment where the parcel has been placed.

The managing director of HappyBox, Chris Orejuela, stated that the next version of these robots will be able to communicate with humans through an application similar to Siri, the programme used by Apple.

Orejuela added that the robots will be accurately tracked at all times when they are out delivering parcels, while there will always be a human being monitoring closeby, to avoid them being stolen.