Updated: Feb 24
Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company, has unveiled a new unmanned logistics vehicle. The “G Plus” was built in co-operation with Alibaba’s logistics business unit, Cainiao, and RoboSense, a developer of robotic technology. The robot will help ship goods purchased online to customers more conveniently and utilises a storage locker with facial recognition that promises to keep food warm. The G Plus robot can carry multiple packages of different sizes, and it has extended stamina to travel longer distances compared to its predecessors. Perhaps more interestingly however is that the G Plus is the world’s first autonomous logistics vehicle to use solid-state light detection and ranging (lidar) technology. The Robosense MEMS LIDAR system utilises a MEMS (Microelectromechanical System) micro mirror scanning which requires only a few laser emitters and receivers to scan through the MEMS micro-mirror in both directions. Traditional systems have used hundreds of lasers to achieve the same effect. The two Chinese companies say that this new technology, combined with miniaturisation of the scanning units, means that material and human costs are greatly reduced while reliability and stability is increased. This means that units can be produced for as little as a few hundred dollars – good news for delivery vehicles as well as level 4 and above autonomous cars.