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Image: BBC

Hermes will be trying out autonomous robots on wheels to pick up deliveries in Southwark, having collaborated with Starship Technologies to build the tiny electronic couriers. The tech company’s robotic devices have already been implemented in other parts of London for Just Eat deliveries.

The inspiration behind the project came from Hamburg, Germany, where wheeled robots took packages straight to customers within the city’s building complexes. While this method seems convenient, it could cause problems in highly populated cities, as crowded sidewalks already exist, and adding small robots into the equation could be a recipe for disaster.

For now, Hermes is only sending small groups of their new robots within a three kilometre radius of the its main locations. The robots measure 55cm in height, 70cm in length, and 18kg in weight. Each one can reach a speed of 6.4km/h while carrying up to 10kg within their walls.

In many ways, these terrestrial robots are a better option than airborne drones, which can easily break the legal rules of aerial devices and don’t carry as much while doing so. There are safety issues with putting things into the sky as well, while grounded robots can be watched and repaired with ease.

Until several successful trials have been completed, every robot overseer will take on three robots to track and guide with built-in cameras. If this works out, up to one hundred robots at a time could be assigned to a single individual.

With the success of Hamburg’s food courier robots, Southwark should be in for a pleasant surprise with these little guys.