It's an autonomous electric box on four wheels.
Autonomous delivery robots can't come soon enough. Especially as this pandemic begins to ease, we're now conditioned to expect mail delivery within hours, not days or weeks. And we're speaking as car people who are currently waiting on replacement parts, which were supposed to be here last week. Honda has a plan for that with autonomous delivery vehicles, though these will look like little cubes, not a Ford Escape like Ford and Walmart's autonomous delivery idea.
The US patent, which Honda also claimed in Japan, is for an “unmanned delivery system that delivers baggage using an autonomous mobile device. Baggage is put in and taken out from a side surface of the autonomous mobile device, which may be convenient for users.”
From the drawings, it looks like a hot dog cart without the umbrella on the roof. It features a few large doors and compartments, along with many smaller doors and cargo holds. We’re guessing these will be lockable, only openable to the rightful owners. Otherwise, we could see some young hooligan taking all of the packages at once.
The patent also explains a display part for the rolling delivery drone. It notes that it could be liquid crystal or electroluminescent and display the delivery status on the door. We were guessing your door or address might light up on the delivery vehicle, to show you which box to open. The more we think about it, it seems kind of fun. However, those screens can also display advertisements, so maybe less fun.
Finally, the drawings have a feature to lock the machine in place. It looks like a tire chock (wedge), but the patent application says it could also just be a brake. We’re guessing that’s to keep it stationary when extricating packages, or to stop it from rolling down a hill in someplace like San Francisco.
There’s certainly no space for a driver, but the key here is that with such a small frame and no wheelman to tote around, this autonomous thing won’t need a big motor or a bunch of batteries. Just enough to get it through its route. There is one problem though. It looks like there needs to be a receiver for the package. That will certainly stop porch pirates from stealing your stuff, but you would have to be home any time a package gets delivered. Until it can shoot the package out onto your porch, we see that as being an extra barrier to adoption.