TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | Staff Reporter, Singapore

First indoor robot runner to cut down Grab's delivery time

The pilot launch will begin at the Paya Lebar Quarter Mall.

A robot runner will help cut down Grab’s food delivery time by up to 15 minutes, as the transportation and delivery firm launches its pilot at Paya Lebar Quarter starting the second week of June.

The robot runner will help to consolidate orders across several restaurants within the mall before handing them off to delivery-partners at a central collection point for last-mile delivery. Through this pilot service, it is projected that Grab delivery-partners may shave off between five to 15 minutes of the usual time taken to navigate shopping malls and collect each order.

This pilot aims to improve the delivery experience by reducing the overall delivery time, and potentially enable delivery-partners to fulfil more orders per day.

The robot runner is designed in partnership with Techmetics Robotics who specialise in designing a wide range of autonomous mobile robots. The Grab robot runner will have the ability to learn about its surroundings through artificial intelligence (AI) and optimise for maximum efficiency. It also comes fitted with safety features such as built-in Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors to detect incoming obstacles, an automated voice message that alerts shoppers of its presence and the capability to scan and monitor its immediate proximity in real-time to avoid sudden obstacles and prevent collision. As hygiene is of utmost importance to Grab and our consumers, the food cart on the robot runner will come fitted with a combination lock. The combination will be given only to participating merchants and Grab staff manning the collection point, to prevent tampering by passers-by.

During the pilot phase, the robot runner will potentially serve up to 35 GrabFood and GrabMart merchants in basement two of PLQ Mall and ferry approximately more than 250 orders per day. For a start, a Grab runner will guide the robot runner on its ideal route. This will allow it to learn, adapt and function effectively in a controlled setting. The pilot is expected to last for one month and Grab will review its performance and viability before expanding this service to other locations.

“As a tech platform that serves consumers, merchants and delivery riders, we are continually seeking innovative solutions that can improve the overall delivery experience for all parties. It is a fine balance to achieve and we believe that advanced technologies such as AI can help us do this well. The food delivery landscape is evolving very fast and the possibilities for innovation are endless,” said Yee Wee Tang, managing director of Grab Singapore.

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