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Accessibility lessons for robot makers

What training do you offer to ensure people of all abilities (and their pets) understand what to do when they see one of your devices on the sidewalk or public walkway? For example, have you tested your robots around guide dogs??

A recent article published in the UK, raises the importance of being proactive and responsive when it comes to accessibility and PMRs. Parcel delivery company, DPD, is a member of Geopost, a European leader in parcel delivery and solutions for e-commerce. They first introduced PMRs in Milton Keynes in July 2022.

Getting to know you

When the owner of a guide dog posted on Facebook that his dog got spooked by a delivery robot, DPD got in touch with the owner to see how they could make the situation better. As reported in Fleetworld: (

“After a number of familiarisation exercises, we were able to simulate the different situations in which Amelia [guide dog] might meet the robot. There were a good few treats involved, but before too long, they were walking side by side like the best of friends.”

Social Acceptance: Listen and Learn

Rather than ignore a light-hearted complaint on social media, DPD realized the opportunity to listen to their customers and learn how to be better. This responsiveness on the part of DPD is probably one of the reasons they are expanding services.

"DPD is expanding robot deliveries to 10 UK towns and cities... the robots deliver to nearby residential areas within a mile of the depot, via the existing network of footpaths. DPD parcel recipients ... are notified of a robot delivery in advance, and once they confirm that they are at home to accept the parcel, the robot is dispatched. Customers can then track the robot’s progress on a map and are notified when it reaches their property."

In URF's February 27th webinar, we focused on the importance of gaining social acceptance for robots as a crucial part of deploying PMRs successfully. The recording of that webinar is available on our YouTube channel with text updates in our blog post.

Accessibility is an Opportunity for Innovators

In URF's Executive Guide, one of the opportunities we highlight is related to planning for those with accessibility needs:

"Putting accessibility first means our deployments will engender the greatest degree of acceptance, community value, and safety. If accessibility in its broadest sense is not a critical, primary design filter, it is unlikely that PMRs will achieve more than a small fraction of their potential."

Please download a FREE copy of our Executive Guide using this link:

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