Cranfield University is rolling out delivery robots across its campus, which can be hired by individuals to deliver food, mail and library books.
The partnership between the university and autonomous delivery robot manufacturer Peyk will be a UK first for on-campus last-mile robotic deliveries, when trials begin in the spring.
Peyk robots are available for grocery stores, cafés and restaurants to offer deliveries to students, but can also be booked by students for ‘peer to peer’ deliveries.
The PeykBot navigates autonomously but can be brought under human control, and is able to climb curbs and steps. Different size and function boxes can be attached to the main robot body, depending on the use case. A web platform allows users to quickly book a robot and track its route when out on a delivery.
“With delivery robots becoming a more common sight on UK pavements, we’re delighted to be the first university campus to roll out this kind of service to our students and staff,” said Gilbert Tang, senior lecturer in robotics at the university.
Researchers and students in Cranfield’s Centre for Robotics and Assembly will assist Peyk engineers to facilitate the campus trials, collect data, and optimise operations. The students’ work will help to fine-tune the robots for rollouts to other UK university campuses, Peyk said.
“We are super proud to have a partner like Cranfield to be the first in the UK to deploy in campus robotic deliveries,” said Salman Moghimi, founder and CEO of Peyk. “This collaboration also enables the students to have a hands-on experience on real operational robots as well as potentially creating unique post-study job opportunities.”
The robots have previously been tested in Milton Keynes, stronghold of robotic delivery firm Starship Technologies, whose robots are used to fulfil orders for Co-op stores in the city and local businesses.
Peyk says its robots use a combination of AI and sensors to “detect authorised driving routes, including side roads and pavements”. It adds that its robots are “ready for use in any location, not just pre-mapped areas”. Each PeykBot is equipped with night lighting and indicators, “ensuring safe and secure deliveries 24/7”.
Peyk was founded in 2018, starting as a London-based – human – courier business. In 2022, the company pivoted to autonomous deliveries, beginning trials of its first robot in Qatar and the UAE. Operations extended to Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia last year, before a launch in the UK last summer.