Home Bots in Society Environmental impact of delivery robots calculated: 280,000 car journeys avoided

Environmental impact of delivery robots calculated: 280,000 car journeys avoided

by Pieter Werner

Starship Technologies, in conjunction with Milton Keynes Council, has announced the initial findings of an internal study to review the early impact of zero-emission robots in the city over the last three and a half years.

Since launching the emission-free autonomous delivery service in Milton Keynes in April 2018, Starship has calculated that 280,000 car journeys have been avoided, equating to over 500,000 miles. This in turn has seen 137 tons of CO2 and 22kg of NOx saved, with a reduction of 23kg of PM10 and 12kg of PM2.5 in the volume of micro-particles in the air. The latter in particular is known to have a significant impact on human health, including premature mortality and cardiovascular diseases.

Starship’s delivery robots, which are powered by zero carbon electricity, are part of a significant ecosystem in Milton Keynes geared towards the Council’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon negative by 2050 in order to tackle climate change.

Sustainability Strategy

Despite the city coming top of a table of over 146 urban locations across the UK in a recent study examining air pollution levels carried out by Birmingham Institute for Forest Research and Lancaster University’s Environment Centre, Milton Keynes Council is taking nothing for granted. Just last year, the Council announced its Sustainability Strategy and Biodiversity Action Plan, focusing on how Milton Keynes will become a world-leading sustainable city.

The Council is also looking at how transport and mobility can reduce carbon emissions, and is one of the leading places in the UK in moving forward with zero carbon transport. Deployments include e-scooters, electric buses, e-car share and e-cargo cycles. Linking all of this to smart city energy management systems, Milton Keynes is poised to achieve its ambitions of carbon neutrality and help address the climate emergency facing society.

Carbon challenges

Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Sustainability, Jennifer Willson-Marklew, said: “We are delighted that Starship’s service is helping residents and businesses receive deliveries in an efficient and sustainable way. The operations are a great success and the results are testament to how thinking differently about our carbon challenges can deliver better outcomes all round. Whether it’s Starship, more electric vehicle charging or electric buses, Milton Keynes will continue establishing itself as a modern, forward-thinking city that’s ready to take on the climate challenge head-on.”

Volker Beckers, Special Advisor to the Starship Technologies board and former Group CEO of RWE Npower plc, added: “An average delivery for a Starship robot consumes as little energy as boiling the kettle to make just one cup of tea. These initial findings therefore demonstrate the significantly positive impact that electrically powered robots can have in helping to reduce harmful emissions and how energy could be used more effectively. Starship remains as committed as ever to working closely with Milton Keynes Council and helping to tackle some of the huge challenges in discussion surrounding COP26. We are further encouraged that additional research has revealed that close to 70% of Starship’s customers forgo driving to a store or receiving a delivery from a fuel powered vehicle in favour of robot delivery.”

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