Tokyo, May 26, 2022 – Rakuten Group, Inc., Panasonic Holdings Corporation, Seiyu Co., Ltd. and Tsukuba City today announced that Rakuten, Panasonic Holdings Corporation and Seiyu will begin providing deliveries using UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles) running on public roads on Saturday, May 28, 2022. This service is designed to deliver products sold by the Seiyu Tsukuba Takezono Store, with deliveries being made in as little as 30 minutes from the time of an order being placed. Deliveries can be made to nearly 1,000 households located in close proximity to Tsukuba Station*1, and deliveries will be made every Saturday until July 30, 2022. This will be the first time in Japan that on-demand deliveries of supermarket products will be made in as little as 30 minutes from time of order, using UGVs on public roads.
- Rakuten Group, Inc.
- Panasonic Holdings Corporation
- Seiyu Co., Ltd.
- Tsukuba City
Rakuten, Panasonic Holdings Corporation and Seiyu Begin Provision of UGV Delivery Service in Tsukuba City
This service allows customers in the designated area to place orders for products from their smartphones using a dedicated website developed by Rakuten*2. Once an order is placed, a UGV will deliver the products in as little as 30 minutes from the time of the order, or at a specific time chosen by the customer*3. There are over 2,000 products available for order from the Seiyu Tsukuba Takezono Store, including fresh foods, refrigerated and frozen foods, boxed lunches, prepared meals and everyday essentials. Orders made are subject to a handling fee of 110 yen (tax included). Through the website, customers can check on their delivery UGV’s current location and estimated delivery time, and, upon arrival, can be notified with an automated phone call or text message*4. The UGVs are X-Area Robo automated delivery robots, developed by Panasonic Holdings Corporation*5, and are remotely monitored and controlled from Panasonic Laboratory Tokyo (Ginza, Chuo Ward, Tokyo), located approximately 60 km from Tsukuba City*6, using a system called X-Area Remote.
Rakuten, Panasonic Holdings Corporation and Seiyu achieved the first delivery of supermarket products using UGVs on public roads in Japan, offering the service for a limited time from March to April 2021 in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Rakuten and Panasonic Holdings Corporation, together with six other participating companies, also launched the Robot Delivery Association*7 in February 2022, and have been collaborating to implement UGV delivery services into everyday society. Efforts include the establishment of safety standards and certification systems in the business sector which would allow UGVs to drive on public roads.
Tsukuba City, with participation from Rakuten and Panasonic Group, established the Tsukuba Smart City Council, to facilitate coordination on policy surrounding cutting-edge technologies that utilize data and robotics. Tsukuba is also focused on becoming a smart city – a resident-centric, sustainable community in which anyone can live a safe, convenient and comfortable life. In addition, Tsukuba City was designated as a Super City National Strategic Special Zone*8 in April 2022, and is currently aiming to realize its Tsukuba Super Science City Concept*9, which includes the implementation of UGV delivery services.
Going forward, all four organizations will accelerate innovation through the use of UGVs, while helping to build a safe, secure and convenient society.
*1 A part of the area from Azuma 1-chome to 4-chome and Takezono 1-chome to 3-chome, Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture.
*2 Developed by Rakuten as a shopping website dedicated to delivery services using UGVs and drones.
*3 Up to eight deliveries a day. When designating a delivery time, customers can choose from a total of eight one-hour time slots between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Picking up products at the Seiyu Tsukuba Takezono Store and monitoring for UGV security will be outsourced to Tsukuba Machinaka Design Co., Ltd., which is responsible for urban development in central Tsukuba.
*4 There may be changes to the content of the service. Certain products may be subject to a limited number or amount available to order.
*5 X-Area is the generic name of the service platform currently being developed by Panasonic Holdings Corporation. X-Area is a registered trademark of Panasonic Holdings Corporation.
*6 While the UGV is in operation, a security officer (one person) will monitor the delivery locally.
*7 An organization that works to improve the convenience of people’s lives through expanding UGV delivery services.
*8 Designated by Cabinet approval, these zones promote DX and aim to bring the future forward in a wide range of fields, through the digitalization of regions and regulatory reforms.
*9 By engaging in bold regulatory reforms and implementing cutting-edge technologies and services in society, Tsukuba City will present people with new options based on scientific evidence and aim to become a super city, delivering happiness to its citizens in a variety of ways, and, shaped through university and national research institute collaboration.
Service Period: Every Saturday from May 28 to July 30, 2022, for a total of 10 days.
Content: A delivery service using UGVs on public roads. Available for approximately 1,000 households in the area surrounding Tsukuba Station, and delivering products sold by the Seiyu Tsukuba Takezono Store in as little as 30 minutes from time of order.
Available products: Over 2,000 products, including fresh foods, refrigerated and frozen foods, boxed lunches, prepared meals and everyday essentials.
Service area: A part of the area of Azuma 1-chome to 4-chome and Takezono 1-chome to 3-chome, Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture. A maximum of about 850m in a straight line from Seiyu’s Tsukuba Takezono location.
Organizations involved: Rakuten Group, Inc., Panasonic Holdings Corporation, Seiyu Co., Ltd.
Order being placed on the dedicated website.
A UGV departing from Seiyu's Tsukuba Takezono location.
UGV traveling on public road
Operator monitoring remotely using a remote control system
UGV arriving at its destination, and users collecting their products.