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HK firm develops fully autonomous delivery robot

Once again, the Smart Government Innovation Lab in Hong Kong has released a new solution, developed by one of its incubatees. The innovation is now ready to be acquired by other firms, government agencies and academic institutions.

Solution description

The solution, named Rice, is a fully autonomous delivery robot that works alongside people in busy indoor environments such as logistics, hotels, office buildings, hospitals, and high-rise residential areas.

Sophisticated enough to operate elevators, Rice uses SLAM technology to navigate in dynamic environments around people and objects. Rice was designed to deliver items quickly, safely, and reliably in places people live, work, and play.

Once delivery is requested, items are loaded in Rice’s locking bin, the destination is entered, and the “go” button is selected. Rice is then on its way, navigating tight hallways and obstacles.

The solution can even operate elevators autonomously. Once at the destination, Rice alerts the recipient and opens the bin for the item to be removed. When the delivery is accomplished, Rice then travels back to the docking station.

Rice – an innovative, cost-effective innovation

Rice autonomous delivery robots are completely designed and developed in Hong Kong and are currently pilot testing in 3 locations. Rice can deliver far more than blood samples in hospitals, room service with a flair in hotels, just-in-time packages in high-rise buildings, and logistics in manufacturing locations.

Rice is not just a robot; it’s a complete robotic platform – a proprietary hardware and software system that provides safe, fast, and accurate deliveries, for less.

The benefits of Rice are:

1. Improved efficiency

In any environment, a Rice delivery robot:

  1. is available for all shifts, 24/7/365
  2. enables staff to focus more on complex, meaningful tasks to work at the top of their license
  3. reduces wait times for deliveries
  4. provides an electronically documented, secure chain of custody and delivery tracking
  5. deploys a platform to manage labour with reduced risk

2. Reduced waste:

Each Rice autonomous delivery robot:

  1. enables a lower cost of delivery
  2. reduces lost items
  3. provides an electronically documented chain of custody
  4. eliminates the need for over-stocking decentralized areas with inventory
  5. stabilises bed utilisation peaks and valleys at hospital

3. Lowered costs – FTE vs. Relay

Finally, and most importantly, Rice is ready for subscription in US$499 monthly per unit. A Rice costs far less when compared to a Full-Time Employee while increasing delivery collaboration across departments with an average runtime of 10 minutes and able to operate for 7/24/365.

4. The world’s first delivery platform compatible autonomous delivery robot

Rice is the world’s first indoor service robot that able to integrate with various delivery platforms. With open API, delivery platforms can now integrate with Rice’s delivery services.

Drivers will no longer need to enter the recipient’s building to make the delivery. Wherever buildings there is a Rice installed, items can be handed to Rice and let it complete the job.

Application Areas

The solution can be applied in Infrastructure as well as Robotics.

Technologies Used

The solution employs Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning.

Use Case

Rice is a fully autonomous robot, but besides delivery services, Rice can also perform the task of being a “guiding” robot in a large commercial area.

In Hong Kong, there are 140 grade A buildings, 250 commercial areas (e.g., the Airport, Science Park, Cyberport and Convention Centre) and 55 public/private hospital.

Rice can provide both delivery and guiding services in those areas. With elevator integration, Rice can even make deliveries to multi-floor in every building in the city. This enables businesses to free up staff capacity to perform in more valuable tasks.

The robot’s developers are now partnering with the following commercial parties in Hong Kong:

  1. Cyberport 2 & Cyberport 3 – Pilot program conducted over 120 days without human intervention. Rice has completed over 2000 deliveries in this site. More production units are planned to deploy in the rest of the campus in next quarter.
  2. Science Technology Park 17W & 19W – Partnering with Hip Hing Construction Company Limited and Schindler Hong Kong for full delivery robot integration in these 2 buildings. The project is now in progress.
  3. K11 Atelier & K11 Artus – Partnering with New World Development Company and Schindler Hong Kong to implement full delivery robot integration in these 2 buildings. The project is now in progress.
  4. Gogovan Kwun Tong Office – Pilot program conducted over 90 days without human intervention.
  5. Hong Kong Airport – Boarding Gate delivery solution in progress.

The robot is a pain-point focused, cost-effective tool that aims to solve an age-old market problem, invented and developed from Hong Kong.

Over the next year, Rice Robotics will keep on scaling with its elevator and property partners, bringing more synergy to the robotics scene in Hong Kong.

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