Omniva trialing the “mothership concept”

Omniva trialing the “mothership concept”

Estonia-based Omniva has announced that it will be trialing the ‘mothership concept’ – a prototype autonomous package delivery service which combines Mercedes-Benz vans and Starship Technologies delivery robots. The pilot will take place over the summer in the suburban region of Kakumäe in northwestern part of Tallinn.

“We are excited and honoured to have the opportunity to be the first testers of this ‘robotic delivery solution,” said Omniva’s CEO Joona Saluveer. “The pilot will give us essential knowledge and feedback on the possibility of such innovations in our last-mile delivery process.”

As previously reported by Post&Parcel, Mercedes-Benz and Starship Technologies first revealed the mothership concept back in September 2016. A customized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van serves as a mobile loading and transport hub for eight robots. At the launch in September, the Mercedes-Benz mothership was also shown working with flying delivery drones from Matternet.

Commenting on the Tallinn trials, Stefan Maurer, Head of Future Transportation at Mercedes-Benz Vans, said:  “We are very pleased to have found an innovative and agile partner in Omniva, with which we will take another major step towards the implementation of our system. The conditions here in Estonia are optimal and we are sure that the experience gained from this test will help us to make rapid progress on the road to Robotic Delivery Solutions,.”

“This is an important step forward for the future of parcel delivery,” said Ahti Heinla, CEO Starship Technologies. “Our first tests with Omniva and Daimler will be invaluable for the future of this new technology.”

In June the Estonian parliament also adopted legislation allowing delivery robots – such as the ones manufactured by Starship Technologies – on its pedestrian sidewalks. The parliament said that the “last-mile” delivery accounts for about 20-40% of the entire delivery cost and therefore the trend is moving towards using delivery robots to save money.

“I am very pleased that Estonia can present another technological innovation at the beginning of our presidency of the EU. It is a pilot in its early stages, of course, but all great things have started from little tests,” said Urve Palo, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology. “E-commerce is growing quickly and in order to keep up, we must think of development in all aspects – from creating a consumer-friendly cross-border framework to the last-mile delivery technology.”

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