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One of the latest to join the bandwagon, Barcelona-based Eliport, envisions a system in which people do not have to be involved. In the Eliport setup, autonomous four-wheeled robots will start by loading themselves up with 30 to 40 kg of cargo at a centrally-located warehouse/logistics hub.

Guided by GPS and a 3D map of the neighbourhood in which they are operating, they will then proceed to their destination by travelling along sidewalks at walking speed. Once the robots get to their destination, they will automatically transfer their cargo into a secure pre-installed trunk/container, from which the recipient can later retrieve their delivery.

The robots will avoid obstacles such as pedestrians via a combination of 10 to 14 sensors, which will include video cameras, LiDAR (light detection and ranging) and radar. They will be able to travel up to 25km on one charge of their battery pack and will be capable of topping that pack up via chargers located at their pick-up and drop-off points.

Eliport is currently raising fund for its venture via the Start Engine crowdfunding site, with backers becoming investors in the company. It is hoped that the first prototype will be ready by October, with the first autonomous prototype debuting in 2020, and a full roll-out of the service taking place in 2021.

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