“No Deviations or Smoking Breaks”: Alibaba Starts Testing Program for its Messenger Robots

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The Chinese giant of technology and e-commerce, Alibaba, ad recently its plan to deploy 1,000 messenger robots on university campuses and urbanizations, specialized in last-mile delivery (final stage in the purchase delivery processes), to cope with the current huge demand for online orders, explaining that “they will be able to do trip no detours or smoking breaks“.

He also added that among the problems that arise during the last stage, the delivery drivers can get lost trying to find a flat in a building or navigate through a large urbanization, which results “expensive and time consuming“.

In the interest of developing its own logistics and automation system, the company suggests that the technology enables messenger robots to find their way more efficiently than humans, with the ability to predict the movements of nearby people and vehicles five to ten seconds in advance, to avoid collisions 99.9999% of the time.

The robots, called Xiaomanlv or “little donkey” in Mandarin, will pick up packages at a local drop-off point and then use trails and bike lanes to reach their destinations, with the ability to deliver around 50 packages at a time and up to 500 boxes in one day, covering up to 100 kilometers on a single power charge.

According to experts, the Xiaomanlv have a level of autonomy of 4 out of 5, which indicates that they are “highly autonomous “, capable of operating in quiet areas, but not yet on a busy street.

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