In Singapore, Autonomous Robots Are Now Doing The Food And Grocery Delivery
Mar 13, 2021

Singapore in a first test run has deployed two autonomous robots for food, grocery and parcel deliveries within a trial area in the Punggol neighbourhood comprising 700 residential households.

If successful, the service will be expanded to other parts of the city state, according to Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority, the government agency leading the initiative.

The pilot run is scheduled for one year, the statement said.

The robot delivery enables residents in the area to choose when they would like their items delivered, rather than accommodating an online retailer’s fixed delivery schedule. Shoppers at the supermarket, for instance, could drop off their purchases at a concierge counter and arrange for these to be delivered to their residential apartment at a time they choose, and continue with their shopping or dining.

Perishables including food and flowers, as well as some controlled items such as medicine could also be delivered through the “robot couriers.”

The robots are provided by OTSAW, a Singapore-based startup that produces autonomous robots, implementing self-driving and artificial intelligence technologies into the machines. They are weighing 80 kilogrammes each and are accompanied by a safety officer during the test period.

Mobile app communicates with the robots

Shoppers would need to download a respective mobile app to receive notifications from the robot, namely when it is underway or has arrived at its destination point to collect the delivery. This is also ensuring that only an authorised person received the goods.

“Autonomous delivery robots can play an important role in augmenting existing delivery infrastructure to enhance consumer experience and drive productivity gains,” Infocomm Media said in its statement.

The pilot run of the robots is also underpinned by a trend to more online shopping and food delivery. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, online transactions in Singapore soared to 14.3% of total retail sales value last November, up from just 5.8% in January last year, government statistics show.