YAPE, Italy’s first home delivery robot
Tested by Japan Post
Italian technology, a first test-delivery in Japan and truly global ambitions. And global, indeed, is the challenge that artificial intelligence systems have launched in the field of mobility, a sector assailed by a quiet revolution that will soon come to the fore, changing the way we move people and objects – and therefore our lives – forever. One element of this silent revolution is YAPE (Your Autonomous Pony Express), the self-driving home delivery vehicle designed by e-Novia, an Enterprises Factory whose heart and brains are based in Milan.
The YAPE two-wheeler – each wheel of which is equipped with an autonomous electric motor, to reduce consumption and maximise agility – has already gone far. Indeed, as far as Minami Sōma, in the prefecture of Fukushima, where, on 31 January 2019, the Italian robot delivered a packet of rice, through Japan Post, to an elderly couple, after navigating an urban obstacle course.
Among the Fukushima evacuees
Amidst camera flashes and TV footage, this public dress rehearsal launched a new partnership between e-Novia and Japan Post, Japan’s leading postal operator, which had chosen YAPE, through the industrial partner Drone Future Aviation, for the delivery tests started in December 2018. The first testing phase, which began with a demonstration experiment on 21 December 2018, later continued, alternating indoor and outdoor sessions in the Minami Sōma public buildings destined to the evacuees of the severe Fukushima earthquake of 2011.
This experimentation serves as a starting point for a possible ongoing cooperation with Drone Future Aviation and Japan Post, which aims to solve the future challenges of automated deliveries. As a result of these tests, YAPE is evolving some of its features, including load capacity, suspensions suitable for every type of road surface, and thermal insulation for food delivery.
YAPE is the first self-driving electric urban delivery vehicle designed and created entirely in Italy. It is particularly agile in the narrow, irregular streets of the historical city centres of Italy and Europe, whether on pavements (at a maximum speed of 6 kilometres per hour) or on cycle paths (up to 20 kilometres per hour), and has an autonomy of about 80 kilometres. As it travels on two wheels, it can turn on the spot and easily overcome obstacles such as pavement edge or tram tracks.
The YAPE ecosystem works through an app-based management platform via which the user can call the robot and place the package to be delivered into its box, which has a capacity of 30 kilograms. The recipient’s address can either be specified through the app or be determined automatically via the GPS location of the recipient registered with the platform. Departure and delivery of the package are certified by a system that combines credentials in the sender’s and recipient’s smartphones, only enabling those authorised by the platform to open the box.