Courier service Glovo to use robots for Madrid deliveries

by Lorraine Williamson
Glovo plans robot delivery service in Madrid

MADRID – The decision of the Madrid City Council to allow self-driving vehicles on the street is an excellent opportunity for Glovo to start with robot deliveries. The courier service has now applied for approval for a trial in the chic Salamanca district. 

If it is up to Glovo, the robots will take to the streets after approval in January. This represents a major challenge for the city council of the Spanish capital. On one hand, it wants to make Madrid an attractive location for innovative companies. However, on the other hand, it must continue to monitor safety on the street. 

In addition to Glovo, the Madrid start-up Goggo Network has also requested approval for putting self-driving vehicles on the road. The intention is that these vehicles, like Glovo’s robots, will be deployed in the Salamanca district. It will then be the first time that automated vehicles will drive around the city. 

Robot food truck 

Goggo Network has also requested permission to drive an automated food truck in the Madrid business district of Cuatro Torres. However, the Madrid City Council has informed El País that a January start is too early. Because the safety criteria must first be carefully examined. A pilot project is therefore more likely to take place in the quiet Villaverde district in the south of the city, where there will be no pedestrians on the street during the trial run. 

Sandbox de Villaverde 

This area where tests will take place with self-driving vehicles has been renamed ‘Sandbox de Villaverde’ project. It is hoped for international interest in Madrid because Spain itself does not have a significant car or robot industry. As a first step towards developing this international interest, the Sustainable Mobility Act was amended in September to allow self-driving vehicles to be used on public roads as well as in pedestrian zones. 

Glovo’s robots, which will never completely replace the living couriers, are 79cm high, weigh about 40 kilos and travel at a speed of 5 k/hr. They will serve a ​​one square kilometre area around the warehouse of the courier service in the Salamanca district. From here they make their route to the delivery address on the sidewalk. 

Goggo’s food truck will also move over the pavement in the Cuatro Torres district. This self-driving facility offers both hot and cold snacks and meals from 8.30  am to 5.00 pm. Next Wednesday the food truck will take to the streets in Las Rozas for the first time and around Christmas the cart will pass through Calle Real of this municipality located 20 kilometres northwest of Madrid. 

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