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Robots may tackle urban freight problem

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A new report suggests that the use of robots for last mile deliveries could address the problems of urban freight distribution.

The Independent Transport Commission’s (ITC) report on urban freight distribution in the UK considers the problem of more deliveries by vans in urban areas because of increasing demands of internet shopping and door-to-door deliveries, leading to congestion and air pollution.
The report is based on innovations in urban freight practices in London, following the 2012 Olympic Games, which forced the transport and logistics sectors to rethink methods.

In particular, the report considers retiming deliveries, urban consolidation centres (UCCs), and ‘addressing the last mile through new technologies’, highlighting a new initiative which uses robot vehicles to make food deliveries in Greenwich.

The robots are designed to operate 99% autonomously at pedestrian speeds on pavements, delivering groceries, food and other goods within a maximum delivery time of 30 minutes. They began commercial trials in the UK in July 2016.