The U.S. has had a postal service since 1792, and the United States Postal Service has existed in its current form since 1971. The sight of a post office employee delivering the mail, either by foot or on one of their recognizable vehicles is an integral part of Americana. But one tech company wants to change that.

Starship Technologies is a European company, started by a pair of Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, has unveiled a product called the “Local Delivery Robot.” It probably won’t replace human mail delivery, but seeks to make the process more efficient. RELATED: "Bigfoot" Model A Mail Truck is the Stuff of Legends

Could This Autonomous Delivery Robot Replace the Mailman?

The “Last Mile,” is a term in transportation to describe how moving goods is efficient when on a boat or train, but those efficiencies go away when the package needs to take other vehicles to get to its final destination. That is where the Local Delivery Robot comes in, as it can travel within five to 30 minutes of its local hub, and autonomously deliver packages. It can deliver them at specified times, and can even deliver items like a pair of grocery bags. The concept rides on six wheels, and uses electric power, so it has no carbon emissions. Starship Technology says the vehicle is 10 to 15 times cheaper when it comes to last mile costs. According to a Starship Technologies release, “For businesses, Starship’s technology eliminates the largest inefficiency in the delivery chain, the last mile. Instead of expensive and time-consuming door-to-door delivery, retailers can ship the goods in bulk to a local hub, and then the robot fleet completes the delivery to the shopper’s door for a fraction of the cost.” RELATED: Imagine a World where Tesla Drones Rule the Skies

Unlike Amazon’s drones, these take to the streets, which in some ways is safer. It has the ability to recognize and avoid pedestrians, though we’re not sure it has the ability to fend off any would-be thieves or vandals. The Local Delivery Robot is in its last phases of testing, and plans to launch a pilot program in the United States, U.K, and other countries sometime next year. RELATED: Teaching Autonomous Cars to Break the Law

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