Autonomous bus will allow the postman to take a holiday
A small red and white bus stops in front of the student center at Korea University’s Sejong Campus on Wednesday.
The recipient of a package, who has already been notified by the Korea Post mobile app of the expected arrival time and verification code, enters the autonomous vehicle. She then punches the verification code on an input device and takes out her package from a container in the vehicle.
Soon afterwards, another student enters the vehicle and leaves her package. Before doing so, she has already plugged in the information for the recipient of the package on a mobile app. After scanning the barcode, she sticks the printed label on the package and puts it inside the container.
Korea Post on Wednesday rolled out a pilot version of an autonomous post office that moves around, completing delivery and pickups. The postal service released an autonomous post office, courier assistant robot and a mail delivery robot.
The unmanned post office moves in between buildings and across roads while completing orders. The courier assistant robot takes heavyweight packages and assists the couriers. The assistant robot recognizes the courier and uses its autonomous functions to follow the courier. The mail delivery robot delivers mail within a building autonomously.
According to industry experts, integrating autonomous vehicles or robots in the postal business is a global trend.
“Due to the impact of the untact, or contactless, trend and development of technology, such as artificial intelligence, we have integrated autonomous vehicles and robots for creating a flexible environment,” said Choi Jung-ho, head of the logistics planning department at Korea Post.
Korea Post said Norway’s postal service adopted an autonomous robot for mail and package delivery, and Japan’s parcel delivery company Yamato is in the process of developing an autonomous parcel delivery vehicle.
When autonomous vehicles and robots are implemented, workload is expected to become lighter for the couriers, since they do not have to carry the heavy mail and travel long distances.
“Once the autonomous vehicles and untact postal services involving robots are implemented into our daily lives, there will not only be a huge improvement in customer convenience, but it will also help reduce the number of accidents experienced by the couriers,” Minister of Science and ICT Choi Ki-young said during the event for the trial.
It may take a while until the autonomous vehicle and robot technology for postal services are actually used by the public.
“The current law only allows commercial parcel delivery within the district designated for trial runs of the vehicles,” said Kang Kyung-pyo, head of the research center for cooperative automated driving at the Korea Transport Institute.
BY KIM KYUNG-JIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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