By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Prototype could travel up to 50 miles to deliver products.
A new robotic prototype from Swiss company Teleretail AG would be capable of traveling distances up to 50 miles to deliver goods, expanding the potential for suburban and rural delivery applications, according to TechCrunch.
Soon, the company will launch partnerships with pilot customers and municipal partners both in the U.S. and Switzerland to put its technology into action. Teleretail recently demonstrated its robot at the AUVSI Xponential event in Dallas, which focuses on drones and autonomous vehicles.
Teleretail CEO Thorsten Scholl said the company has been financed, in part, by grants including $2 million in available funds from the European Space Agency, but it hasn’t raised any seed or venture capital to date. The Space Agency funding was designed to uncover how the company is using satellite data to help ground-based systems navigate around to pick up or deliver items from retailers and residents.
To generate revenue, Scholl said, “We think of ourselves as a consumer app that applies [robotics] to local logistics. We could envision a subscription-based model where a consumer can subscribe to the delivery service, or a store could subscribe to it in order to make deliveries that its employees cannot make in person.”
Teleretail is reportedly considering a subscription-based business model in which customers could subscribe for robot delivery or small businesses could subscribe to have deliveries made to their customers using Teleretail robots.
Teleretail differs from its competitors in that it is aiming especially for long-distance delivery applications, something that makers of other delivery robots or autonomous delivery vehicles don’t appear to be pursuing at the moment. While that fact gives Teleretail an apparent advantage in a portion of the market to develop that no one else is addressing, it remains unclear how much of a market exists for autonomous deliveries to somewhat distant or remote areas. In January, DoorDash and Postmates began testing ground robots from Starship Technologies for deliveries under one mile for customers in Redwood City, California and Washington, D.C., as Innovative Retail Technologies reported.