Robots to deliver parcels and groceries to Punggol residents
One-year trial aims to relieve labour crunch in the logistics sector and test the workability of such robots
About 700 households in Punggol will be able to use robot "couriers" to deliver their shopping under a new trial involving autonomous robots.
The one-year trial, which aims to ease the manpower crunch in the logistics sector and test the utility of such robots, will see two such "couriers", named Camello, delivering parcels and groceries for free to the lift lobbies of seven Waterway Woodcress blocks.
Consumers choose when they want their items delivered, instead of having to adhere to a fixed delivery schedule.
The trial is led by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, in partnership with HDB, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, as well as logistics service provider CM Logistics, supermarket chain FairPrice and technology provider Otsaw.
At the launch of the trial yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary noted that the logistics sector is very labour-intensive, with the problem exacerbated by the growth of e-commerce, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: "The use of the autonomous mobile robot, such as in this trial, hopefully can give a better customer experience. It can potentially generate new business models, and hopefully it will mean we can scale up without being dependent on manpower as a limiting step."
He said Punggol was chosen as a test bed because of its relatively young demographic.
The estate's infrastructure also allows the robots to move around smoothly, such as via pathways and ramps.
Little effort is needed when opting for robot delivery.
After buying groceries at FairPrice's outlet at Punggol's Oasis Terraces, all the consumer has to do is drop the items off at the mall's concierge and then - either through informing staff or via the Camello mobile app - arrange to have the "courier" deliver the items to the block at a specified time.
The robots are for hire from 10am to 7pm on weekdays, and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays. They are not for hire on Sundays and public holidays.
Those who buy goods online will use the same app to indicate their preferred delivery date and time.
Consumers will be notified through the app when the robot is en route and upon its arrival.
A QR code or a one-time password is used to retrieve the items, meaning only an authorised person will be able to get the goods from the robot, which will wait for about 10 minutes before making its way back to the dispatch hub.
The two Otsaw robots, each weighing 80kg, have passed LTA's safety assessment for the supervised use of autonomous vehicles on public paths.
Their speed has been capped at a walking speed of about 5kmh, and each robot will be accompanied by a safety officer during the trial.