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Robotics Research
Posted on October 25, 2017

Delivery robot helps mail carriers make their rounds

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Deutsche Post has selected the German town of Bad Hersfeld as its test site for a robot to accompany mail deliverers on their routes and carry their mail items. The project was announced at a joint press conference between the mayor of Bad Hersfeld, Thomas Fehling, and Jürgen Gerdes, CEO of the Post - eCommerce - Parcel division at Deutsche Post DHL Group. Residents of two delivery districts in Bad Hersfeld can immediately expect to start seeing the self-propelled electric "PostBOT" accompanying the mail carrier. The robot can carry up to six post trays, relieving carriers of their heavy loads. It also frees up the deliverers' hands, making it easier for them to distribute the mail. Deutsche Post will be watching the pilot project carefully to see how well the robot supports staff with their physically demanding work.
 
"Day in and day out, our delivery staff performs outstanding but exhausting work. We're constantly working on new solutions to allow our employees to handle this physically challenging work even as they continue to age," explains Jürgen Gerdes. "We are already using a variety of tools in this regard, including e-Bikes and e-Trikes for postal deliveries, and are now also looking at innovative robot applications. This current test is expected to deliver important insights into how we can further develop the delivery process for our employees."
 
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The city of Bad Hersfeld expects to benefit from the "PostBOT" test as well, as the "PostBOT" will also be provided to a city employee who distributes the mail between the city's administrative offices. Mayor Thomas Fehling was pleased that Deutsche Post selected Bad Hersfeld for the German premiere of the "PostBOT."
 
"We're a city of manageable dimensions and a dedicated team of city administrators, the kind that can offer a short path from planning to approval," says Thomas Fehling. "The test fits perfectly into our program of Smart City measures - we hope in very concrete terms that the test phase will provide simplified mail distribution between our administrative offices."
 
The "PostBOT" was custom-built, based on a robot from the French company "Effidence S.A.S", with considerable input from the delivery staff of Deutsche Post to ensure that it met their specific needs for transporting letters and packages. The robot can carry loads of up to 150 kilograms. Its sensors track the legs of the mail carrier, following behind them automatically throughout the entire route. It can navigate around obstacles or stop when needed. The robust "PostBOT" can be used in all weather conditions. The control elements have been placed on both sides of the unit to promote good ergonomics for the back and joints.
 
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The test will initially run for roughly six weeks, followed by a period of assessment. Those insights will then flow into another round of tests and improvements.
 
Source and top image: DHL
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