Leading parcel delivery company DPD has confirmed plans to expand autonomous robot deliveries to 10 UK towns and cities in the next 12 months, following a successful trial in Milton Keynes, starting with Raunds in Northamptonshire.
The announcement extends DPD’s relationship with AI-powered robotics and last mile delivery specialists, Cartken and follows work by DPD that identified up to 30 UK depot locations which could potentially deploy robots.
Cartken’s level 4 autonomy and leading micro-AV technology platform is regarded as one of the safest last mile delivery solutions on the market and enables full autonomy on footpaths with only cameras – one of the only companies in the autonomous vehicle delivery space to achieve this with a purely vision-based system.
DPD first introduced the Cartken robots in Milton Keynes in July 2022 and they have since travelled almost 500 miles and successfully performed over 2,500 trips delivering parcels to DPD customers.
Based at DPD’s depot at Warth Park on the western edge of Raunds, the robots will deliver to nearby residential areas within a mile of the depot, via the existing network of footpaths. In Raunds, the robots will have three separate parcel compartments, instead of just one in the original trial, and an extended battery life of up to 12 hours.
DPD parcel recipients in Raunds will be notified of a robot delivery in advance, and once they confirm that they are at home to accept the parcel, the robot will be dispatched.
Customers will then be able to track the robot’s progress on a map and are notified when it reaches their property. They then use a code to open the secure compartment and access their parcel. Once the compartment is closed, the robot will either continue to its next delivery or return to the depot.
DPD has worked closely with North Northamptonshire Council on the introduction of the robots in Raunds.
Cllr Graham Lawman, North Northamptonshire Council’s Executive Member for Highways, Travel and Assets, said: “We are delighted that DPD is introducing delivery robots in Raunds. The council is committed to the environment and supporting clean and green alternatives to traditional forms of transport to reduce emissions. It is great to be able to help bring this innovation to North Northamptonshire.”
Tim Jones, Director of Marketing, Communications & Sustainability DPDgroup UK commented, “The trial in Milton Keynes has been a huge success for us. The robots have exceeded our expectations, and the feedback has been fantastic. We can see people’s reactions when they meet them, and it is overwhelmingly positive. We set out to understand the role that delivery robots could play in certain locations in the UK and the trial has helped us identify more sites where we could deploy the robots successfully.
“Our aim is to be the UK’s most sustainable delivery company and that means investing in innovations and trying new things. We are well on our way to decarbonising our van fleet with EVs and we are also making a big step forward by switching our HGVs to renewable biofuel, but we are also interested in brand new solutions that can help us transition to a smarter, more sustainable future.”
Cartken Co-Founder and COO, Anjali Jindal Naik, commented, “Autonomous mobility will be a key lever for decarbonisation, as it transforms last-mile transportation into a much greener process. By partnering with delivery companies, such as DPD, we’re propelling this transformation forward, making sustainable delivery the norm, rather than a nice to have.
“2023 has been a year of tremendous growth for Cartken and we’re only in Q2. Developing our partnership with DPD is a critical step in expanding our presence globally, beginning with the UK, while also being at the forefront of sustainable last-mile delivery by cutting down on C02 emissions.”