Shipping companies are trying to find ways to make home deliveries more efficient, including through stand-alone solutions. The Russian company Yandex, active in Israel through the Yango taxi service and the Yango Deli delivery service, in recent months launched a pilot project in Tel Aviv of robots that deliver groceries to consumers. Now, however, due to complaints from residents about interference with their movement on sidewalks, the project has been put on hold. The six-wheeled robot, Yandex Rover, is equipped with cameras and sensors that help it identify what is happening around it and navigate.
“City street mapping in a robot pilot project by Yango Deli has been authorized by the Ministry of Transportation subject to the approval of the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality. For now, the Municipality has halted this activity in order to examine its functioning and its adequacy with the infrastructure of the city,” replied the municipality of Tel Aviv.
The Municipality’s decision comes amid complaints from Tel Aviv residents on social media, saying the robots are getting in their way and even blocking sidewalks.
The Tel Aviv Municipality said the Yango Deli pilot project was not coordinated with it. Deputy Mayor Meital Lehavi, who is responsible for transport in the city, told ‘Globes’, “Yango’s technology was presented to the municipality last year, and to my knowledge, the pilot has not been coordinated with city officials, and no orderly process for the trial has been determined as required.”
Contrary to statements by the municipality, Yango said that in fact there was cooperation during the trial. “The robots always work in ‘pedestrians first’ mode. Our robots only work on streets where there is enough space not to disturb pedestrians, and of course they are ‘green’ and save energy Cooperating with the Municipality, as we have done so far, we respect the request to stop the activity until it is brought back for joint discussion as planned.”
The company chose not to provide information about the pilot project itself and its performance, and whether its operation was from the outset in line with Ministry of Transportation requirements and coordinated with the Tel Aviv Municipality.
Yandex is one of many companies around the world testing similar delivery robots.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on July 7, 2022.
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