DPD Clevon’s Robot Courier CLEVON 1 Becomes Inaugural Tester of Ülemiste Test City
The vision of Ülemiste City is to become car-free. “Our wish is to redistribute the urban space in such a way that all modes of movement can be used with high quality,” said Ursel Velve, Chief Innovation Officer of Ülemiste City . “The purpose of pilot projects and tests is to understand how such logistics solutions can be integrated into a green urban environment.”
Clevon’s Chief Sales Officer Mihkel Ilp said that the company tested various business benefits in cooperation with DPD. Ülemiste City was well suited as a testing environment for building the service and testing the robotic vehicle, both in terms of its size and ambition to be a smart green business city. “Ülemiste City aims to be a leading business hub. DPD tested the hub + electric vehicle concept in Ülemiste in order to serve this area in the future when it becomes car-free,” explained Mihkel Ilp. He added that the parties immediately agreed with the idea and the project was launched quickly.
DPD used Clevon’s robot courier CLEVON 1 that delivered parcels in Ülemiste City from September to December 2022, i.e. three months. The robot courier covered almost 900 kilometers during this time and served 120 customers.
The testing had to answer several questions:
- Which activities does the use of an autonomous robot courier require from the sender of the goods and which from the courier company?
- Is it necessary to change consumer behavior?
- How will both business and private customers accept the service?
- How suitable is the campus infrastructure for this and could a robot courier be a suitable way to deliver packages in a business campus?
Describing his experience, CEO of DPD Remo Kirss said that Test City was a well-thought-out project-based approach from end to end. “Ülemiste City had good and professional project management. When we started to discuss the possibility of testing, a clear documentation came to the table, how they take it, and the evaluation criteria. It made me think about nuances I didn’t initially think about.” Remo Kirss added that the Ülemiste City test was a unique experience for an autonomous vehicle. In the past, DPD has tested a robot courier in a closed area in the Netherlands, but not in such an urban environment.
“We got a clear overview of what we wanted to know, as well as feedback on the customers’ receptivity to receiving packages in this way,” noted Remo Kirss. The test period showed that such a solution did not suit the business customer so well, and at the moment, the autonomous robot courier is seen to be better suited for the last mile service of the private customer, therefore, at the end of the test period, DPD moved to the Peetri settlement to test the service further.
Testers also observed that the package robot needs a multi-cabinet top application to ensure greater efficiency, which was implemented. Initially, the parcel robot had only one cargo compartment and could deliver a single package at a time.
Mihkel Ilp said that one of the lessons of the robot courier test period was a clearer awareness of the customer’s needs. “People didn’t understand why the package delivery process had been changed. The package did not come to the door of the office with a courier as usual, but had to go down to the front of the house to meet it. It is also not customary in Estonia to send private packages to work, then there would have been another motivation to receive the package. In such an environment, it still remained niche logistics,” he explained.
The testing of parcel robots in Estonia did not go unnoticed in the entire DPD group, where a working group on autonomous vehicles was convened to map the developers of autonomous vehicles, their suitability for the parcel business and testing the suitability of technology from different developers and possible integration into parcel transport.