28 September marks the start of the practical trial of an electrical and autonomous driving delivery robot at Breda University of Applied Sciences' (BUas) new campus. The robot will distribute various, non food, goods between the three on-campus buildings. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic the demand for autonomous vehicles has increased; these robots reduce the need for human interaction and as such they prevent the further spread of the virus. The delivery robots also have other additional benefits as they are theoretically available 24-7, electric and therefore sustainable and they take over certain activities so that people can be committed elsewhere in a more beneficial role. In collaboration with Future Mobility Network and Airlift Systems from Qatar this robot will be used to research these benefits and the scope for scaling up its deployment.
New and smart mobility is an important theme within BUas's Built Environment & Logistics programme. Project leader Jeroen Weppner: "Last summer we contributed to the self-driven bus in Drimmelen's port area with our research. There you could clearly tell how important it is to test new forms of mobility in a controlled setting. The knowledge and experience gained by road authorities and manufacturers, but also by our students, is very important for further development. These insights have lead to the creation of the delivery robot initiative."
The delivery robot is a prototype built by Airlift Systems in Qatar, which also has a branch in Rotterdam. They have shipped the robot from Quatar. Future Mobility Network, BUas alumni Alwin Bakker's company, has gained a lot of experience with new forms of mobility and is therefore a partner in this project: "We see an increase in the demand for autonomous vehicles during the corona crisis. Our business develops and implements new, smart vehicles which will contribute to societal needs and which will play a part in logistical services.
The City of Breda is also enthusiastic about the trial. Alderman Boaz Adank: "Such an innovative project matches our economic strategy of being innovative and distinctive. At the same time we see that there is little in terms of legislative frameworks for these new forms of mobility. At the moment there are too many rules that stand in the way of innovation. So for us too this is a good learning experience, moreover we hope to receive more of these initiatives in the future."
During the trial BUas students will research the delivery robot's impact: the vehicle's performance, the environment's behaviour, such as that of the pedestrians and cyclists on campus, as well as the user friendliness of such a robot. A proposal for the next phase will be drawn up based on the research findings. During the coming weeks the test, which is co funded by the West-Brabant Region's Research and Development Fund and Logistics Community Brabant (LCB), will be carried out on the BUas campus.