The last mile-delivery robot is also all-electric.

Graham Hope

September 19, 2022

3 Min Read

Canadian auto parts supplier Magna has built an autonomous electric delivery vehicle.

The “purpose-built, on-road, lightweight, electric robot” has been launched on a pilot basis already. Since March it’s been used as a last-mile delivery solution at a pizzeria in Detroit, Michigan.

Announcing the robot at the North American International Auto Show, also in Detroit, Magna explained how it was born from the company’s desire to leverage its experience in automotive electrification and autonomy as it seeks to develop new mobility business opportunities.

The robot integrates a low-speed, full-stack autonomous driving system developed by Magna itself, and takes advantage of both hardware and software from the company’s automotive products.

The system uses cameras, radar, lidar and other tech to detect and avoid obstacles and traffic on public roads, as it delivers orders for the city’s Brooklyn Pizza. 

The customer experience is very straightforward; they order their pizza and then receive a message by smartphone when it is on the way. This includes an estimated time of arrival and a code to access a storage compartment on the three-wheeler. 

On arrival, the robot parks at the curb and the customer removes their food.

Since starting the pilot six months ago, the robot is said to have successfully delivered hundreds of pizzas to commercial and residential locations near the restaurant – and with a top speed of 20 mph, there is no chance of orders going cold en route.

Magna says it is using data and customer feedback to further fine-tune the service and believes it can be applied to offer end-to-end last-mile delivery across a range of potential business models.

“Expanding into the growing world of new mobility is a key part of our ‘Go Forward’ strategy that takes Magna beyond its existing technical strength in automotive and vehicle systems, and into entirely new markets and business models,” said Matteo Del Sorbo, executive vice president, Magna International and global lead for Magna New Mobility. 

“The next phase in this pilot program is to apply our learnings to further refine the solution for a broader range of applications and use cases, scale, and unlocking innovative new business models.”

Magna has signaled its intent with a recent investment of $77 million in Yulu, India’s largest electrified shared mobility provider, and by collaborating with San Francisco-based Cartken, which has developed sidewalk delivery robots. Magna will use Cartken’s platform for different applications and manufacturing for the company. 

“Our expertise lies in the ability to design, engineer and scale at higher volumes,” added Del Sorbo. “These moves allow us to enter a space where we could offer mobility as a service, not just a point-of-sale product.”

Food delivery by AV is expected to be a massive growth area in the coming years. Earlier in September, Uber Eats announced driverless deliveries in Houston, Texas and Mountain View, California as part of a deal with Nuro, while in May it confirmed trials in Los Angeles with Motional’s self-driving Hyundai Ioniq 5, and a sidewalk bot from Serve Robotics.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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