• Gergely Horvath

Last Mile Autonomous Delivery in Otaniemi, Finland

Updated: Oct 1

The start of the academic year is fundamentally different this year due to the Covid-19 restrictions all over the world. Students arriving to the Aalto University campus in Otaniemi this August might have seen a new kid on the block: an autonomous last mile delivery robot.

LMAD prototype robot in action in Otaniemi, Finland - built by GIM Robotics

Otaniemi normally is home to about 4,000 students, the university facilities and several high-tech companies employing over 12,000 people — this year these numbers are way less, but there are still many people on the campus daily.

Avoiding crowded places and social distancing are key measures to drastically reduce chances of transmitting or catching the corona virus. During the Spring, customers changed their normal shopping behaviour in the matter of days, turning to online shopping, even if it meant paying surcharges for home deliveries.

Small grocery stores were especially hit hard during this period. Some of them did not even have an online store, not to mention home delivery capabilities. That is why we teamed up with the local K-Market in Otaniemi to pilot our solution in a real-life setup, offering an autonomous delivery option for their customers.

“The pandemic had a huge impact, it was a kick-start to home deliveries” says Aleksi Tapani, the owner of the K-Market. “Home deliveries will grow in the future. We cannot do it all by ourselves, we need help on it. Automatization, maybe robotics can be part of the solution.”

The building blocks of the LMAD platform

Our platform manages the whole last-mile delivery process: from integrating with the grocery store’s ordering system, optimally allocating the grocery packages to the delivery tours matching the customers’ requests, communicating with both the store’s staff and the recipients, and of course controlling and managing the autonomous robot on its journey.

“It was like WOW, I was amazed! The boxes worked well, it was easy to put the goods into the system, and the way it was operated really surprised me” adds Tapani. “This is a good bonus to traditional delivery methods, and it is a good bonus for our online store. Basically, we are giving the customer one additional option to receive the goods for themselves.”

At LMAD we believe that autonomous, electric and sustainable deliveries are not just an additional option, but the future of last-mile deliveries. The pilot at Otaniemi was a success and paved the way for more pilots and deployments of our solution in the Helsinki area in the near future. Stay tuned for more news to come soon!

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LMAD is supported by EIT Digital, a body of EIT — European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

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