REWE conquers the last mile with autonomous “shopping baskets” in Hamburg-Elmsbüttel


REWE has established itself as the leading provider of online ordering and delivery services for fresh food and household products in Germany. For more than seven years, the REWE delivery service has shaped the cityscape of Hamburg. In addition to the more than 1,700 REWE pick-up services throughout the country, the company also relies on innovative technologies such as REWE Scan&Go and REWE Pick&Go to provide its customers with an advanced service. The first autonomously driving “shopping baskets” are now being launched in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel and are sure to cause astonishment among passers-by in the coming weeks. In cooperation with TÜV Süd, the city of Hamburg and the start-ups “Cartken” and “LastMile”, REWE is conducting a three-month test operation with up to three autonomous delivery vehicles.

With ‘Last Mile’ app, Eimsbüttel customers order their goods for fast delivery

From now on, customers in Eimsbüttel have the option of ordering their groceries from the comfort of their own home via the “Last Mile” app. The desired products are put together at the REWE store in Hoheluftchaussee 23-25 and delivered within two hours by the “delivery bot” with the help of artificial intelligence. Initially, a technical supervisor accompanies the REWE delivery bot during its journey through the streets of Eimsbüttel. As soon as the “delivery bot” arrives at the front door of the respective customer, they can receive their goods directly from the robot by entering a previously received code.

The robot vehicles weigh about 35 kilograms and are the size of a beer crate. They can move within a radius of 3 kilometres. At a speed of less than 6 kilometres per hour, the vehicles safely navigate the pavement and deliver selected products to the home within an hour upon request. To avoid accidents, 360-degree cameras and artificial intelligence are integrated. In the test phase, certain items such as beverage crates, items relevant to the protection of minors, frozen products, meat and fresh products requiring refrigeration and over-the-counter medicines are not available for the time being.

It is possible for the REWE robots to have a payload of up to 14 kilograms. As soon as an order is received digitally, it is assembled at the REWE store and then dispatched. The test project “REWE Delivery Bot” will initially run for a period of about three months. The autonomous robot will deliver the ordered groceries from Monday to Friday (except public holidays) between 11:00 and 15:00.

Elmsbüttel: REWE is testing three autonomous delivery vehicles to carry customer grocery orders online

Regardless of whether it is Amazon, Zalando, Otto or MediaMarkt, the last section of the online order delivery to the front door is the most complex challenge. This so-called “last mile” section requires staff, vehicles with parking facilities and is often time-consuming. Customers are either not present or only open after several attempts to ring the doorbell. On top of that, the parcel also has to be transported to the customer. Despite these obstacles, the delivery business could become the standard in the future. Traders must therefore experiment and find out what their customers want and need.

Rewe is a long-standing food retailer that has been offering its customers a delivery service for quite some time. According to the company, Rewe is even the market leader in this area. Nevertheless, the last stage of delivery, the so-called “last mile”, presents a challenge. In Eimsbüttel, a district in Hamburg, Rewe plans to use small robots to overcome this challenge. Starting next week, the so-called “rolling shopping baskets” will drive through the district and deliver orders, according to Rewe. The test is being carried out in cooperation with TÜV Süd, the city of Hamburg and the start-ups “Cartken” and “LastMile” and is initially planned for a period of three months.

Rewe introduces AI robot for optimisation

With the help of the app “Last Mile”, customers can conveniently order their shopping at Rewe in Hoheluftchaussee. The shopping is put together in the store and delivered to the customer within two hours by means of a delivery bot. At the beginning, the delivery robot is accompanied by an employee, as this is necessary due to the traffic situation in Hoheluftchaussee. The two-lane road is often parked up by delivery vehicles and the cycle path is also integrated on the pavement. In order to ensure that the delivery robot can navigate there without an escort during peak times, the support of an employee is initially required.

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