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Grab pilots indoor robot service in Singapore in bid to cut delivery times

The trial will begin at Paya Lebar Quarter Mall and is estimated to save delivery-partners up to fifteen minutes per visit.

Grab is looking to utilise robotics to help its riders collect orders from restaurants in shopping malls.

The company announced it is piloting a  “robot runner” service at Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) Mall, starting in the second week of June.

The robot runner will help to consolidate orders across several restaurants within the mall before handing them off to delivery partners at a central collection point.

Designed in partnership with Techmetics Robotics, the Grab robot runner will have the ability to learn about its surroundings through artificial intelligence (AI) and comes fitted with safety features such as built-in Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors to detect incoming obstacles and an automated voice message that alerts shoppers of its presence and the capability to scan and monitor its immediate proximity in real-time to avoid obstacles.

The food cart on the robot runner will also come fitted with a combination lock, given only to participating merchants and Grab staff manning the collection point, to prevent tampering.

During the pilot, Grab said the robot runner will potentially serve up to 35 GrabFood and GrabMart merchants in basement two of PLQ Mall and ferry approximately more than 250 orders per day. 

A Grab runner will initially guide the robot runner on its ideal route, allowing the machine to learn. The pilot is expected to last for one month and Grab will review its performance before expanding this service to other locations.

Grab projects its riders may shave off between five to fifteen minutes of the usual time taken to navigate shopping malls and collect each order.

The move builds on the mix-and-match feature they introduced to several malls last year, where consumers are allowed to order from different restaurants within a mall and pay just one delivery fee. However, Grab says riders have found themselves requiring more time to make their way through the crowd to locate multiple restaurants within the mall. 

“As a tech platform that serves consumers, merchants and delivery riders, we are continually seeking innovative solutions that can improve the overall delivery experience for all parties. It is a fine balance to achieve and we believe that advanced technologies such as AI can help us do this well,” Grab Singapore managing director Yee Wee Tang said.

“The food delivery landscape is evolving very fast and the possibilities for innovation are endless. I am thankful that Lendlease shares the same hunger to break new ground through deep tech and has been extremely supportive of this pilot. I believe it will give us good learnings for future iterations and we look forward to having more partners experiment and trial new solutions with us,” said Yee Wee Tang, Managing Director, Grab Singapore.

“Lendlease is proud to partner with Grab in this pilot project that uses technology to facilitate safer and faster food delivery services. With a central location for Grab riders to pick up orders and the use of technology to manage logistics workflow, we will be able to minimise people-to-people contact and do our part to safeguard the well-being of riders, tenants and customers,” added Audrey Balakrishnan, general manager of Paya Lebar Quarter.

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