From the last week of September onwards, customers of REDI shopping centre may have spotted a small, wheeled robot moving about on its own. Its task is to deliver meals on demand from K-Supermarket to the Majakka high-rise building. Customers can place an order via the building’s Asumi service on their computer or mobile device, and the delivery robot courier will take the products directly to the customer or to the collection point in the building’s shared facilities.
This is an ongoing robot delivery pilot in Kalasatama district in Helsinki implemented by technology company Dimalog in collaboration with Omron and service design agency Muotohiomo. The pilot is coordinated by the city of Helsinki’s innovation company Forum Virium Helsinki with its partners SRV and KONE. SRV is involved regarding the smart living services directed at Majakka residents, while KONE Oyj offers the lift interfaces for the delivery robot to move about in Majakka. Another essential partner is REDI’s K-Supermarket, which has the opportunity to test the robot in its services.
The key aim is to learn how autonomous couriers could address last-meter delivery challenges in everyday urban life. The pilot is a part of the agile pilots in the 6Aika (Six City Strategy) New Solutions in City Logistics project, which seeks smart solutions for organising urban logistics as lightly, sustainably and effectively as possible. The idea is to try out interesting new services the likes of which are not yet on the market.
“In the agile pilots, we offer companies the chance to use city districts as test platforms and try out new services together with residents. The residents can influence the pilot projects by expressing their daily needs and providing feedback and suggestions. In the pilots, the partners and the entire ecosystem learn from practical experiences in authentic environments. In this pilot round, we will learn about autonomous deliveries in public spaces as a part of smart living and retail services,” said Development Manager Kaisa Spilling from Forum Virium Helsinki.
Robots as everyday help in future housing
Could robots be a part of smart living services in the future? The current pilot is an example of smart living services that may be a part of our everyday life in the future.
“The design of the Kalasatama high-rises has focused on the residents and new services making their life easier. A dense urban centre is a favourable platform for innovations, and it’s great to see that people here aren’t afraid to try new things,” commented SRV’s Development Manager of Housing Services Lotta Toivonen.
At REDI, the robot is following a pre-set route in the shopping centre. It enters a lift and takes the delivery to the resident. During the pilot, it still requires an assistant to open doors along the route, but it can use the lift on its own.
“REDI shopping centre and Majakka are a great environment for the pilot. It’s great to acquire practical knowledge of how smart lifts could be a part of autonomous mobility in urban environments, offering better services to residents to make daily life smoother. Through the pilot, we and various other parties get to test future service concepts where safe and smooth mobility is key,” said KONE’s Head of Partner Operations Mirva Nevalainen.
Residents involved in the development
The residents of the Majakka high-rise have had a vital role in the pilot. Feedback has been requested from them starting from the early phases of the pilot. The residents provided plenty of feedback, which was used in the planning of the pilot. In resident surveys, the pilot service was seen as particularly useful when a person is ill, working remotely, hosting a party or otherwise busy.
“As Majakka residents, we are proud to be testing something new and unique. After all, Majakka is a unique residential building in Finland, so it’s only natural for us to be part of a robot pilot and enjoy new experiences. We hope that the positive experiences of the pilot will be helpful in the development of similar services in the future,” added Jari Ojala, Chair of the Board of Helsinki’s REDI Majakka housing company.