Magna International Inc. is building a fleet of cooler-sized robots for Cartken, an autonomous delivery technology startup.
Although Cartken announced the contract on Wednesday, Magna began manufacturing the robot last month.
Magna executive vice president Matteo del Sorbo said it placed an initial order of 50 Cartken Model C robots at its plant in suburban Detroit and is adding capacity. Automotive News,
The agreement calls for Magna to build a six-wheeled robot, but the companies did not provide an exact number or a dollar value for the contract.
Cartken sees a market for robots for autonomous delivery to hotels, universities, warehouses and other locations. The Oakland, California, company is the developer and will not provide the Service.
Other companies will use robots to do the actual deliveries. It has a business model similar to that of self-driving car companies such as Argo and Motional.
“This partnership is an important step toward growing our business and bringing more Model Cs to the world,” said Christian Bursch, Co-Founder and CEO of Cartken.
The Model C has multiple cameras and uses machine-learning algorithms, GPS and mapping to analyze its environment and respond in real time. On-board teleoperation technology allows remote monitoring and a human can take control if necessary.
Delivery robots can work autonomously both outdoors and indoors.
Del Sorbo said the robot that Magna is building for Cartken is designed for pavement.
“This is the first application that Cartken has targeted with the Model C,” he said. “But there are other platforms and applications that we will use to do that down the road.”
Although on a much smaller scale, manufacturing autonomous delivery robots is a natural extension of Magna’s vehicle production capability, del Sorbo said.
“This vehicle is very much like what Magna has done for a very long time,” he said. “But as far as an application on pavement delivery bots, this will be the first one we are building and deploying.”
Del Sorbo said it also fits within the company’s plan to diversify beyond manufacturing passenger vehicles and parts.
“This aligns with the strategy we outlined at our Investor Day this year and last year as we move into new business models,” he said. “Last-mile delivery is a growing market, and Magna wants to be a player in that market.”
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