There are lots of reasons that delivery robot companies launch their services. Faster food deliveries. A attempt to make delivery more available. One of the main reasons Bizero launched its robot delivery service in Istanbul, Turkey was to help prevent the rampant death of delivery drivers there.
Mehmet Akincilar, Founder of Bizero told me by video chat this week that delivery driver deaths in Turkey is a big problem and that he wanted to deploy his robots to help. According an article in the Turkish publication, Duvar from Feb 2020, “75 of the 103 motorcyclists who died in traffic accidents were delivery drivers” (the publication did not specify where in Turkey or a specific timeframe).
Additionally, the Duvar post said:
While it is estimated that 100,000 motorcyclist delivery drivers are currently working in Turkey, at least 50,000 are believed to be working under the table. Those working informally get paid less, and usually these workers are immigrants or high school students on summer break. While a delivery driver can make between 150-200 TL a day, immigrants and drivers without licenses are paid only 50-60 TL a day
This is where Bizero comes. Akincilar and his team are using self-balancing two-wheeled robots, dubbed PIKA (“Paylaşımlı İnsansız Kargo Aracı,” or “Shared Unmanned Cargo Vehicle”), to make food deliveries in Istanbul. The robots aren’t currently the most high-tech robots we’ve covered (they use an actual padlock on the cargo door and recipients are texted the combination), but they appear to get the job done.
The PIKAs have a range of 100 kilometers on a charge, can carry 30 kgs worth of stuff, and have a maximum speed of 10 kmh. Bizero’s robots are semi-autonomous, so there is a human pilot that plots the course for the robot (they are not fully driven by teleoperators). One person can pilot up to five robots at a time. This also means that robots won’t fully replace humans in the workforce, as some drivers can move into working as robot teleoperators.
The program was launched last July, and Bizero has 10 robots making deliveries around Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Akincilar says that the company will have 100 robots making deliveries by the end of this year (and that they will have digital locks).
Bizero’s business model is to sell the robots outright. There is no subscription or per mile fee, just selling robots to delivery services, restaurants, markets, etc. Pricing was not disclosed.
Bizero is actually the second delivery robot company operating in Istanbul right now. Delivers AI uses four-wheeled autonomous ‘bots and also plans to have a fleet of 100 robots making deliveries in a year’s time. Unlike Delivers AI, however, Bizero is bootstrapped.
Given the mortality issues with delivery drivers in Turkey, having more robots making deliveries in Turkey seems like a good thing.