Freight transport is expected to increase drastically in the coming decades. An increase of up to 130 percent is expected during the period 2010 to 2050 in OECD countries, and in countries outside the OECD, predictions show increases of up to 550 percent. This implies fundamental changes in the logistics industry, especially when it comes to the so called last mile delivery - when goods are delivered to the end customer. This is usually the most expensive and environmentally harmful part of the entire chain.
“By increasing the number of autonomous delivery robots on a large scale, we believe that the negative environmental impact can be reduced, says Sara Berge, Vice President of HUGO Delivery, who leads the project. “There is a need for research on robotic logistics in urban environments and we believe that the result may lead to a new ecosystem for logistics that offers faster, cheaper, cleaner, safer and more customized delivery methods.”
In addition to testing and developing a ground-based, automated delivery system on campus, the project aims to generate new knowledge about how urban logistics affect the environment and how the transition to autonomous solutions affects society and infrastructure in general. Through interviews and focus groups with users and people who come into contact with the robot, the degree of social acceptance for these new solutions will be measured.
A broad range of partners, including product developers, researchers, property owners and the city's traffic office, are participating in the project. It is also a part of Chalmers University of Technology's ambition, through the Five Star Campus initiative, to create an attractive and experimental campus environment that highlights cutting edge research and innovation.
“People moving around on campus are already used to the innovative environment. There are for example several energy projects in progress and we have previously had a self-driving bus circulating in the area. The Climate Neutral Urban Logistics project is fully in line with the campus we want to create, and the robot is really something that will attract attention,” says Per Sunnergren at Johanneberg Science Park, who runs the Five Star Campus initiative together with Chalmers University of Technology.
Climate Neutral Urban Logistics
The developer of the robots, as well as project leader, is the startup company HUGO. Other partners are Chalmers University of Technology, Chalmersfastigheter, the School of Business, Ekonomics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Johanneberg Science Park, Ernst Rosén, HSB Gothenburg, Akademiska Hus and the City of Gothenburg’s Traffic Office. The project has received support within the strategic innovation program Viable Cities, which is financed by Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency and Formas. It has a total budget of 5.5 million and runs from November 2019 until May 2021.