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Christmas presents and autonomous transport go hand-in-hand in Helsinki

Christmas presents and autonomous transport go hand-in-hand in Helsinki

An autonomous vehicle is collecting presents and preparing them for the children of the city

In the Finnish capital of Helsinki, smart solutions and Christmas spirit complement each other. For the next few weeks, an autonomous robot will be collecting presents meant for disadvantaged children in the city that it will then deliver to the Helsinki Social Services who will on their part distribute them to their respective recipients. The robot is not only a charitable and safe solution to gift-giving during the coronavirus pandemic but also plays a key role in the gathering of data for the functioning and betterment of autonomous vehicles.

Celebrating Christmas the smart way

The robot is part of a charity event organised by the local authorities in Helsinki. The event is meant to help over 10,000 children from disadvantaged background experience the true spirit of Christmas despite their circumstances.

Citizens who are interested in taking part in the event can bring their gifts directly to the robot at the Citizen's Square. Packages weighing less than five kilograms and up to 30 cm x 30 cm can be given to the robot for transport. A gift card is perhaps one of the best presents that fit the description. The robot will be receiving presents today and tomorrow, 10 and 11 December before being recalled and before the Helsinki Social Services begin planning the distribution of the gifts.

On top of its social aspects, this experiment also provides valuable information on the problems and opportunities of autonomous transport in a real urban environment. Of particular interest is how independently moving logistics robots can solve the so-called “transport challenges of the last few meters”. With that in mind, it is worth reminding that it is the municipality’s ultimate goal to develop better and more environmentally friendly services for city residents.

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