Business & Innovation- April 13, 2021
Robots in quick commerce: is this the future of delivery?
Since Doora (foodora’s new and fully autonomous delivery robot) started to roam the streets of Stockholm, it has been a sensation in Sweden and beyond: Passengers stop to take photos of the striking pink droid; customers who receive their orders from Doora open their doors in awe; and industry experts debate what role robotics play in the future of delivery – and whether this future is in fact already here.
Efficient, contactless and environment-friendly, robot delivery has a lot to offer when it comes to integrating into the delivery ecosystems of our cities. In order to pilot this scenario, foodora developed their own fully autonomous delivery robot Doora, which started its test phase around Stureplan in Stockholm earlier this year, and will continue to run more tests during spring 2021. Doora will be used to transport both food and other products weighing up to 20 kg, supporting the efforts of quick commerce (or q-commerce), bringing items to customers in less than one hour. And it is hoped that Doora, with a top speed of 6 km/h and a battery life of eight hours, will be seen in cities all over Sweden after the beta test.
We met with Hans Skruvfors, CEO of foodora, to find out more about Doora’s journey and where it might take the delivery industry.
Interview with Hans Skruvfors, CEO of foodora
Doora was introduced in March, and the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive! How do you feel now that Doora is finally out on the streets?
It feels really exciting and got all of us foodorians really pumped up to roll out more Dooras even faster! foodora is a company that is a pioneer in many different areas – we are a tech company that is driving innovation and leading change. Doora is further proof of that.
What did the journey look like to get here – how many months of preparation work have gone into this pilot?
Our Head of Logistics in Sweden – John Denbratt, also called the “father of Doora” – took the initiative to conduct the test with Yape and Tele2. It didn’t take long from idea to actual test. Just like when we’re out on the streets delivering products to our customers, we also act fast in business development.
What has been the biggest surprise along the way?
The reception of Doora! Everyone who saw or met her in town was positively amazed. People seem to be more than excited about the fact that the future is here. Doora has been a topic of conversation across the world, from Brazil to Thailand and even the World Economic Forum in Davos.
How does a Doora delivery work?
Once Doora is fully integrated with our logistics systems, she will be able to automatically accept orders and autonomously navigate from pickup to drop off just like our couriers do today. Customers opting for a “Doora delivery” will however need to come down to the street, as Doora doesn’t know how to climb stairs or use elevators (yet – but we’re looking into this as well).
Why robotics? What are the strengths of delivery robots, and how will they shape the future of delivery?
The technology is evolving fast, while at the same time we need to increase our delivery capacity rapidly in order to meet the ever-growing demand for home deliveries, including both food delivery and quick commerce. This is where Doora comes in. She can be a cost-effective and environmental-friendly addition to our ecosystem for the home deliveries of the future.
Will robots fully replace delivery riders at one point?
No. They will be a complement to humans. We are growing very fast and to meet our customers’ needs we have in the Nordic countries, we have to look into innovative solutions. Robotics and automation will also create new jobs, such as control room operators, developers, and mechanics.
Let’s take a look ahead: Will there be more robots?
Absolutely! We are accelerating the tests with Doora as we speak. The vision is to have several hundred Dooras rolling around the Nordic countries. We also look at drones. Our vision is to reach everyone in the Nordics in 30 minutes and in order to deliver on this ambition, we for sure need out-of-the-box ideas and innovative technology. There’s definitely more to come!