A new trial to test the use of autonomous robots in providing on-demand “courier” deliveries is underway in Punggol, an area of Singapore with a population of around 110, 000.

The one-year trial is led by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in partnership with the Housing & Development Board (HDB), Land Transport Authority (LTA), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), logistics service provider CM Logistics, supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice and technology provider OTSAW.

The trial will see two OTSAW robots delivering parcels and groceries to the lift lobbies of seven housing blocks, to assess the technology, infrastructure and business models.

To ensure public safety, both autonomous robots have passed the LTA’s safety assessment for the supervised use of autonomous vehicles on public paths. The 80kg robots will travel no faster than walking speed during the trial.

Through a mobile app, consumers will be notified when the robot is about to make a delivery. Security will be provided using a QR code sent direct to the user, so only authorised recipients will be able to access to the deliver compartment and its contents.

“With the growth of e-commerce, consumers have grown accustomed to expecting food, products and groceries to be delivered to their home in increasingly shorter periods of time. Autonomous delivery robots can play an important role in augmenting existing delivery infrastructure to enhance the consumer experience,” said Kiren Kumar, Deputy Chief Executive, IMDA.

“Urban logistics keep the city going by delivering goods to people and businesses efficiently. Employing technology to explore alternate and innovative modes of delivery is one way Singapore is building a world-class urban logistics system that also enhances land and labour productivity. This enables our city to become more liveable, sustainable and connected,” said Chiu Wen Tung, Group Director (Research & Development), URA.