Courier company Glovo and robotics specialists Goggo Network will in the coming days launch the first robot delivery service in Spain.
These fully automated robots (no remote driver unless needed) will start to operate between the upmarket neighbourhoods of Goya and Retiro in central Madrid.
When Glovo receives an order, a robot will go to the designated supermarket where the food and other goods that have been ordered by the customer will be prepared and packed into the robot, which will then drive itself to the customer’s address and notify them once they arrive.
So for customers, it’s practically the same as when they usually order food to be delivered, only that instead of opening the door to a human rider it will instead be a robot.
The device is electrically powered and rides at a maximum speed of 5km/h, about walking pace. It’s also relatively small in size: 80 cm high, 80 cm long and 40 cm wide, and weighs around 40 kg.
For now, it will operate only around pedestrian areas and its radius of operations will be of one kilometre.
This will serve as a testing ground for its safety and a team of humans will be supervising how pedestrians adapt to its presence as it moves around Madrid’s Barrio de Salamanca.
In recent years similar robotic rollouts have been tested and remain in use in some areas in the United Kingdom, the United States and China.
The English cities of Northampton and Milton Keynes now have 200 shopping delivery robots operating successfully in each, with no reported accidents.
In the US however, they have drawn some criticism from unions who fear these food delivery robots, on wheels or in the air in the form of drones, will result in jobs being taken from people.
It may be a while before these robot riders are introduced widely across Spain, but Goggo Network does have another autonomous mobility device they plan to launch: a mix between a food truck and a vending machine that will move around the Spanish capital serving food.
If the launch of both smart delivery devices is successful, Goggo Network co-founder Yasmine Faige believes the automated service could soon be used by retail stores and eventually as a means of travel, but first they have to find out “how people (in Spain) will react” to the arrival of these futuristic devices.