The fleet isn’t completely autonomous. The van has a driver, who doubles as a cargo handler for the robots. The system allows 400 packages to be delivered over a nine-hour shift, more than double the amount that’s currently possible without delivery robots, Starship claims. Mercedes is bullish on automated deliveries too. ”With this we are able to increase the efficiency of delivery by an order of magnitude,” Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, said.

Starship’s bots are already delivering food and other parcels commercially in Europe, following its launch in July. It’s working with companies like Just Eat and Hermes to get cargo to customers. Starship says it’s planning field trials with a prototype van, but hasn’t set a date for this.

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