In a world in which email, Twitter DMs, WhatsApp, and disappearing Snapchat messages all exist, traditional pen-and-paper mail — sometimes called “snail mail” — is just so last century. What better way to bring it up to date, then, than by using a robot to deliver your letters and packages? That’s what citizens in Norway will soon be able to experience, thanks to a deal between Posten-Norge, the Norwegian postal service, and automation company Buddy Mobility.
Posten-Norge has signed a deal with the fledgling startup, which is headquartered in both Oslo, Norway and San Francisco, to bring its deliver bots to the streets. These robots resemble large boxes on wheels, can travel at around 6 kilometers per hour, and are supposedly able to deliver mail and parcels to 100 recipients per day. Rather than delivering mail directly to each house, the Posten robots will send customers a notification through an app. The recipients can then use the app to collect their mail by opening up a drawer on the robot containing only their letters. After dropping off its packages, the robots will return to a nearby distribution center for recharging and restocking with the next batch of mail.
Norway has a population of more than 5.2 million people, making it roughly equivalent in number of residents to Minnesota or South Carolina. The robots will initially be put to the test in a residential area of Kongsberg, Norway, before being rolled out on wider delivery routes.
“Buddy Mobility’s first partnership is with Posten, offering the Norwegian postal service an autonomous delivery robot,” the company notes on its website. “Our robot provides Posten with operational cost savings to offset revenue losses from dramatically decreasing mail volumes. At the same time, the robot offers new revenue streams around package and parcel delivery.”
This isn’t the only example of a delivery robot we’ve come across. In Germany, a similar robot called PostBot is being introduced by Deutsche Post, the German postal service. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Starship Technologies has rolled out (no pun intended) similarly autonomous ground-based delivery robots on college campuses and in a variety of neighborhoods — aided by massive cash injections from investors.
If this ultimately means more robots on our streets,and a more futuristic environment overall, we’re all for it! Even though our personal preference for a robot mailman would be Boston Dynamics’ parkour-performing humanoid bot.