Electrolux and BearBox Ltd. are jointly developing a wireless system for home delivery of goods that they say solves the problem of how to securely deliver goods when no one is home. When an order is placed by phone, fax, or the Internet, the system generates a one-time code at BearBox's central dispatch center. The code is transmitted via a wireless system to a box outside the home of the person ordering, as well as to the merchant taking the order and the company making the delivery. Designed by Conran & Partners of the U.K., the box is called an Unattended Delivery Unit and is being manufactured by Swedish white goods manufacturer Electrolux. When delivery is made, the code is punched in, the box opens, and goods can be delivered. The box then locks automatically and the code is reset. Consumers can be notified by e-mail or small text message sent to a mobile phone. The system also keeps a record of who opens the box and when. A prototype is in production and BearBox, based in the U.K., is signing up merchants to use the system. A variety of food retailers, including Tesco in the U.K., have already agreed to use it. BearBox and Electrolux expect to begin consumer testing with 200 boxes in southwest London shortly. A commercial rollout with 5,000 boxes is scheduled for next year in London. Although it can be used for regular mail order packages, the system is intended more for items which cannot be delivered through postal services, or which consumers want more quickly, such as groceries. E-mail: email@example.com.
Unlike industrial robots, which suffered a slight overall slump in 2012, service robots continue to be increasingly in demand. The majority are used for defense, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); and agriculture, such as milking robots.
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