Dubai: RTA announces launch of food delivery robots

They will be piloted in a small area with a 3-km radius, to ensure a speedy 15-minute delivery time

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Published: Wed 15 Feb 2023, 2:48 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Feb 2023, 9:54 PM

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced the pilot launch of autonomous food delivery robots. Called ‘talabots’, the robots will be piloted in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) in partnership with Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ) and talabat UAE.

The pilot phase will see the introduction of three talabots to serve Cedre Villas residents, a gated community in the heart of DSO. The talabots will travel within a 3-kilometre radius from the Cedre Shopping Centre launch point to ensure a speedy 15-minute delivery time.

According to the RTA, the robots will support riders by taking care of short-distance deliveries to “increase efficiency and fleet optimisation, and reduce carbon emissions”.

AI-powered transport

In line with UAE regulations to protect the community’s privacy, the AI technology deployed in the talabots safeguards people’s identity by blurring faces with no facial recognition detection feature. Moreover, to blend in within the community and for peace-of-mind of customers, the robots are fitted with various in-built sensors and advanced algorithms that can intelligently gauge surroundings and detect barriers in their path, keeping a safe distance from toddlers and pets.

How it works

The robots will transport orders from the nearest restaurant partners to the residential neighbourhood of Cedre Villas, meeting customers at their doorstep. With talabat’s app interface fully integrated, customers will be able to track the robot’s journey and be notified through the app when it arrives at their property. Once it arrives, the customer can unlock the secure compartment by following the steps provided within the app.

The robots were first introduced at Expo 2020 Dubai. Tatiana Rahal, managing director at talabat UAE, called the bots a “monumental leap towards the future of online food delivery and smart mobility”.

“We are excited and proud to unveil our fleet of talabots … to offer sustainable and seamless delivery experiences to residents in DSO. We share this success with our exceptional partners and experts in their fields – RTA and DIEZ who helped us facilitate the next chapter of digital transformation in this space.”

Dr Juma Al Matrooshi, director-general of DSO, said the team is looking forward to the success of this trial.

Ahmed Bahrozyan, chief executive officer of the Public Transport Agency, RTA, said the RTA is keen to expand its partnerships with the private sector in collaboration with local partners.

Muammar Al Katheeri, chief officer engineering & smart city at DIEZ, said: “Through this partnership, we aim to provide innovative, safe, and feasible solutions for delivery and logistical services through autonomous transport, the demand for which is increasing in Dubai.”

Logistics and transportation solutions provider Aramex had announced on Tuesday the “successful testing” of its drone and roadside bot deliveries in Dubai. Conducted at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Aramex used the drone delivery technology provided by BARQ EV, which is capable of operating multiple and continuous flights at long-range distances and different environments. It also used Kiwibot’s self-driving ground delivery vehicles that use a combination of high-tech sensors, cameras, radars, and artificial intelligence to navigate through surroundings and obstacles.

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