Grab Singapore will be trialling a robot runner that goes around collecting orders from different restaurants in a mall. The robot will deposit the orders at a central location for the convenience of human delivery persons, who otherwise must collect each order separately.
The rationale for the robot is apparently driven by the growing popularity of Grab’s mix-and-match feature, which allows customers to order from different restaurants within a mall and pay only a single delivery fee. For delivery persons, this inevitably means longer times going through malls as multiple locations must be visited.
Fortunately, if Grab’s projections are right, the robot could shave off between five to fifteen minutes of this tedious multi-stop journey. Customers would enjoy faster delivery times and delivery persons could potentially fulfil more orders per day.
The robot itself is quite the marvel. Designed in partnership with Techmetics Robotics, it apparently learns about its surroundings through artificial intelligence (AI) and optimises for maximum efficiency.
It comes with built-in Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors to detect incoming obstacles, an automated voice message to alert shoppers of its presence, and the ability to scan its immediate proximity in real-time to evade sudden obstacles.
To prevent tampering by passers-by, its food compartment is locked and its combination only given to participating merchants and Grab staff at the collection point.
It all sounds good, but we’ll have to see how it performs in real life. Grab has the same idea – it will trial the robot runner at Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) Mall in Singapore for a month, from the second week of June onwards, before considering expanding its use to other locations.