Auspost to trial parcel deliveries by robot

Australia Post will begin trials of its autonomous parcel delivery service in New Farm, Brisbane, in November. Picture: Australia Post
Australia Post will begin trials of its autonomous parcel delivery service in New Farm, Brisbane, in November. Picture: Australia Post

Robotic posties will roll the footpaths in Brisbane next month as Australia Post trials an autonomous parcel delivery service.

In an Australian first, New Farm residences will have the choice of having their parcels delivered to their door by a self-driving robot for four weeks from November 13, between 6pm and midnight.

While it's not completely futuristic just yet - the mobile locker will be accompanied by an Australia Post employee and will carry just one parcel at a time - it does indicate company could introduce robotic services in the future.

"The small-scale trial will explore if there is customer demand to receive after hour deliveries via a mobile parcel locker," an Australia Post spokesman said.

"It's important we get this right and we will only continue exploring this technology where there is community support."

Customers will need to register and request a delivery at a time which suits them.

When the robot arrives they will receive a text message, and reply to unlock the robot.

QUT Professor in Robotics Jonathan Roberts said the biggest challenge with small ground robots was safely crossing intersections, but said he could see deliveries within single large city blocks becoming common within just a few years.

"The fact that these sort of trials are occurring means that the technology is maturing and the companies are prepared to show the possibilities to the general public," Prof Roberts said.

"I think that many people would embrace this and the use of such robots is inevitable.

"However, they are likely to complement existing delivery services rather than replace them, as delivery robots like this will still be quite limited in their abilities."

Domino's used a similar model to trial pizza deliveries in Hamilton last year, and the company uses robot deliveries in Germany.

Topics:  australia post delivery mail parcels robot

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