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Here Come the Droids: Greek City Will Pilot Robot Delivery

TRIKALA – Following the lead of Amazon, which is going ahead with air dropping packages to customers on a trial basis, the Greek city of Trikala will be the first ever in Europe to use ground-based delivery robots to carry mail, newspapers and small packages from suppliers to local shops.

It’s a collaboration of the program e-Trikala, the University Research Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (EPISEY) and the University of Geneva within the European program SHOW, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency ANA-MPA.

It started with an experiment, the robots  built by the Italian firm YAPE delivering letters written by children from the Elves’ Post Office to Father Christmas to show their capabilities.

The first real tasks will be to “walk” between pedestrians on a path in the city center to bring the packages, no word on how theft would be prevented if someone stops them to take the goods.

City officials said the robots are are trained through the use of lasers and a charted route to move along a preset route and recognize obstacles, modify the route to get around walkers, bicycles and other obstacles.

The aim of the pilot project is to test whether they can be used as a solution for the transportation of goods in city centers, taking into account traffic, time, electrical load and other technical data.

Similar robots are already used inside controlled, indoor spaces and the aim is to see whether they can be used in a normal urban environment with many unpredictable factors, the report said of the scheme.

It wasn’t reported if the municipality will own the droids or how the program would work with businesses, nor how much – if anything – they would be charged for their use or how much shops might pay for their use.

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