Improved autonomy leads to profitable robot deliveries for Cartken


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Dive Brief:

  • Delivery robot company Cartken’s delivery operations are now profitable thanks to advances in autonomy, CEO and co-founder Christian Bersch said in an interview with Supply Chain Dive.
  • Cartken’s Edge-AI system now allows for full Level 4 autonomy on sidewalks, using only cameras as its primary sensor. At Level 4, the company’s robots can navigate complex situations on streets “with basically no intervention,” reducing its reliance on remote human operators and associated costs, Bersch said.
  • “At the very beginning, we weren’t actually sure if we could make this work with camera-based autonomy only,” Bersch said of Cartken, founded in 2019. “We proved to ourselves pretty quickly that it was possible.”

Dive Insight:

In addition to making deliveries profitable, reaching this level of autonomy will help Cartken mitigate costs as it continues to scale and roll out delivery bots in new locations, Bersch said.

The company, which operates in multiple countries including the U.S., Japan and Germany, crossed the threshold of more than 25,000 monthly deliveries in March. Cartken’s robots are primarily used for meal delivery, but the company is also increasing the deployment of its robots in industrial settings.

“We’re pretty actively expanding our deployments in different areas, different countries, and different use cases,” Bersch said.

Autonomous advancements have allowed Cartken’s robots to handle more orders without surging costs.

Other delivery bot operators rely on Lidar technology, Bersch said, while the camera-based system used by Cartken’s robots leverages AI models to detect objects in their surroundings. Additional data the robots collect during delivery operations will help the company improve its autonomous capabilities even further, the CEO added.

Improved autonomy among sidewalk-roaming delivery bots can allow companies like Cartken to grow despite a stingier funding environment, with major companies like Amazon rolling back their bot operations. Using fewer operators to oversee multiple goods-carrying devices can also significantly shrink operating costs, as noted in a January McKinsey report on drones.

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