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High Information Navigation: The Next Frontier for Autonomous Delivery

The autonomous delivery market continues to make significant market gains, driven by dynamic, game-changing technologies.

The autonomous delivery market continues to make significant market gains, driven by dynamic, game-changing technologies. Make no mistake, companies and consumers are increasingly along for the ride. In fact, the global autonomous last mile delivery market value stands at $18.2 billion, with a growth runway that will take the industry to $61.8 billion in value by 2027. That’s a compounded annual growth rate growth rate of 27.7%, and a strong sign of last mile, autonomous delivery growth.

A New Era – and a New Tool – With High Information Autonomous Delivery Mapping

That growth is coming from all directions – all invested in the technology’s growth.

Take the navigational mapping side of the autonomous mobile robot industry, where autonomous robots have already come a long way since the days of simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). But most of the delivery robot companies use continuous manual monitoring to help robots navigate on sidewalks and to find the customer’s front door with deliveries. The challenge being the nuances in environments where overall number of edge cases are high and only camera and GPS is not the solution.

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Now, a new generation of autonomous robots delivering navigation tools is rolling through the pipeline, by leveraging high information mapping technology. Such mapping is already in use in global airports, sidewalks and curbsides; where autonomous robots act as consumer “concierges” to deliver food, beverage and lifestyle products to travelers in an airport environment or deliver groceries to cars in a parking lot or doorstep deliveries for the customers.

Contextual navigation engine plays a significant role in autonomous delivery. With behavior-based contextual navigation, using localization via high information maps adds the missing piece “Context” , to enable robots to navigate in crowded and unstructured  environments.

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Safety and security is at the forefront of high information mapping. With contextual navigation and active perception, robots are made situationally aware by fusing multi sensor data to understand the environment and take appropriate action while navigating to the destination.

While most of the delivery robotics companies are heavily reliant on teleoperation, our technology bets on full autonomy from day one. We use extremely efficient High Information maps which are a bliss for running autonomous navigation on edge hardware.

Here’s how the robot works by leveraging high information navigational mapping technology.
  1. The robot fleet collectively collects critical fused information from multiple sensor sources and creates a map while filtering only information which gives context for localization. For eg: 3D LiDARs provide geometrical information and multiple camera sensors provide additional semantic information; but the High Information maps only stores a fusion of relevant information in the map – making it a thin layer but with huge landmark information.

  2. This gives the robot to localize independent of the type of environment, like Indoor and Outdoor; and also needs very minimal information compared to HD Maps for autonomous localization.

  3. Whenever there is an order to be delivered by the robot, the customers receive status updates on their phone and a unique QR code, with which they can retrieve items when the robot arrives at the drop location.

  4. Through the pickup and delivery lifecycle the robot localizes using High Information Maps and the navigation is contextually aware.. All live locations serviced by the robots are updated in real time, even as they’re navigating the landscape to deliver orders to consumers.

  5. The robot, using its contextual mobility navigation software, navigates the often crowded and unpredictable area to complete its concierge delivery task. Navigation sensors are embedded in the robot for situational awareness, allowing the robot to recognize and process its surroundings and assess any threats as it navigates through the crowd. The entire delivery experience is contactless and fully autonomous – a scenario no other U.S airport has ever experienced before.

High Information Mapping Leading the Way

A key ingredient in contextual navigation are the high information maps that drive autonomous robotic delivery technology, with the maps acting as inputs to the robot’s contextual navigation engine, it gives robots an effective guide to navigate around potential roadblocks and understand the raw landscape of the area.

By leveraging efficient camera and LiDAR fusion as a way to get highinformation navigation maps, these bots can operate safely and efficiently in complicated, high density consumer environments like restaurants, retailers, college campuses, and airports. This adds the ability to identify, address and navigate around moving objects in a safe and efficient manner.

These high information maps achieve several autonomous delivery navigation objectives:

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  • A thin layer of condensed information maps are highly useful for intelligent navigation.

  • The navigation process is optimized for edge hardware running the mapping and localization pipelines.

  • The robot is guided by real-time fusion of multi-modal sensors, specifically 3D LiDARs and RGB cameras.

  • The autonomous delivery navigation maps combine both metric and semantic distance.

How last-minute autonomous robot delivery works:

— The customer places an order

— The order is prepared and loaded in the robot

— An autonomous robot navigates to the customer, using high information mapping technology

— Notification is sent to the customer when the robot arrives to a designated location

— The customer scans a secure and personalized QR code

— The client system updated with the delivery status and returns robot back to its home station

The Takeaway on High Information Mapping and Contextualized Navigation Technology

There’s no doubt about, autonomous robot last mile delivery is an idea – even a revolution whose time has come.

With a global pandemic rolling in just as software technologies emerge that enable robotic-based consumer deliveries, contactless commerce is increasingly in demand among digitally savvy consumers.

That digital shift has also revolutionized the companies – especially retailers, hotels, airports, and restaurants – delivering products to customers. Increasingly, those businesses are intrigued with automated robots for last-mile deliveries that give a demanding public the no-contact delivery experience they want.

Now, with high information navigation mapping for autonomous robots, delivery technology companies have translated principles of vehicle autonomy to near-term practical use cases for consumer environments.

Contextual navigation engines and high information maps are a big part of that equation, giving consumers and their vendors access to a robust navigation suite that operates in live conditions for both indoor and outdoor navigation.

That, in turn, leads to safe, secure and efficient autonomous robotic deliveries – now and for the long haul.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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