Posten Norge to test delivery robot
The world’s first combined letter and package robot may soon bring mail to Kongsberg
Recently, the startup Buddy Mobility signed a development agreement with the mail company Posten Norge. The goal is to develop the world’s first self-driven letter and package robot.
According to a press release, the robot can handle up to 100 households daily. It will have advanced steering and sensor technology. The maximum speed will be under 4 mph, so the risk for the environment is minimal. “This increases the likelihood that we can take the robot faster,” says Posten Norge CEO Tone Wille.
In a recent demonstration, Wille sent a text to Minister of Transport Ketil Solvik-Olsen’s cell phone. The code enabled Olsen to receive the letter from the robot.
“That is the first letter in the world delivered in a mail and packing machine,” said Wille after the letter was delivered as they stood by the robot. The demo occurred during Arendalsuka, an annual, one-week “festival” for politicians, organizations, and businesses.
“I find that the government sector in Norway is very good at grasping the opportunities that technology provides: not just to streamline and save money, but because of how to provide better services to the residents using technology,” said Olsen. “The purpose is still to serve the people, not just to save ourselves money.”
The plan is to test out the new robot with people in Kongsberg at the end of the year. This could signal the disappearance of the mailbox. A resident will receive a message that letters and packages are en route. He or she can decide to go down the street to pick them up or have them delivered to the front door at a convenient time. The robot drives back on its own in the evening. Overnight, it is filled with the next day’s deliveries.
“We believe there is considerable potential in autonomous technology, and it’s exciting that such a large actor as the Post is leaning forward and contributing to the development and application of such solutions,” says Buddy Mobility developer Per Ivar Selvaag in a press release. “Potentially, this may pave the way for an international commitment, because letter and parcel delivery has many similarities around the world.”
“In the Post, we have set high ambitions to drive innovation and apply new technology,” said Wille in a press release. “Self-propelled technology is not science fiction but reality. We are looking forward to many exciting applications for autonomous technology in transport and logistics systems. We want to be Norway’s foremost learning arena for this type of technology. We have great faith in a self-governing future and believe that there are profitable applications in the short and long term for a logistics actor like us. To a certain extent, we rely on the technology development of the major vehicle manufacturers. At the same time, we also want to stimulate the market to develop more niche-driven solutions, something that is an example of the innovation contract with Buddy Mobility.”
According to its website, Buddy Mobility is an “autonomous vehicle service bringing new efficiencies to urban mobility. The team is an international group of designers, product developers, researchers, and engineers based in Oslo and the San Francisco Bay Area.” According to a presentation by the startup, the strategy is to partner with delivery and passenger providers to extend the services that make movement more flexible, reliable, and sustainable.
The story goes back 25 years to the Danish electric car, Kewet. Norwegian investors took over the company and changed the name to Buddy. The company went broke in 2011. CEO and Investor Tharald Nustad and others took over what was left. Today, Buddy Electric is among the shareholders in Buddy Mobility. They have also developed electric scooters and wheelchairs for the mobility impaired.
There are similar technologies in the new mail delivery robot and in future self-driven cars. Selvaag has experience from the international car industry. Today there are more than 1,100 colorful Buddys on Norwegian roads. In this year’s movie Downsizing, Buddy was featured on screen for almost two minutes with star Matt Damon as a passenger.
The first robot has arrived from the United States and will be filled with more Norwegian technology.
Posten Norge was founded 370 years ago. It was the first owner of a steamboat in 1827, and was involved in the railway from Christiania (Oslo) to Eidsvoll in 1854 and the first mail automobile in 1918. Internet changed Norway and Posten. Today, it has 17,200 skilled workers who live to deliver and find new ways.
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the October 5, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.