Clevon Delivers Close to 1,500 Packages for DHL Express Estonia

Cleveron spinoff and DHL plan to expand their collaboration for sustainable deliveries.


Clevon and DHL provide autonomous delivery services in Tallinn, Estonia.
Clevon and DHL Express Estonia began their partnership last year, and customers given high marks to self-driving last-mile and middle-mile deliveries.

Clevon today announced that its robots have delivered close to 1,500 packages for DHL Express Estonia since they began their partnership in the summer of 2022. The partners reported that customers have welcomed the service, and they plan to expand their collaboration.

“Initially, there was a lot of uncertainty because neither our nor DHL's global team had previously tested such a solution,” stated Kristina Laaneots, managing director of DHL Express Estonia. “However, over the past year, our extensive collaboration has proven that this technology has great potential.”

DHL Express is part of Deutsche Post DHL Group, which generated revenues of more than €81 billion ($86.3 billion U.S.) in 2021. The Bonn, Germany-based global logistics company offers services ranging from national and international parcel delivery to e-commerce shipping and fulfillment, international express, road, air, and ocean transport to industrial supply chain management.

DHL has about 380,000 employees worldwide and supports supply chains in industries including technology, life sciences, healthcare, engineering, manufacturing and energy, automotive and mobility, and retail. Deutsche Post DHL Group said it aims to achieve zero-emissions logistics by 2050.

From pilot to daily service at DHL

A pilot project has gradually grown into an everyday service, said Clevon, which added that its Autonomous Robot Carrier (ARC) is now a part of DHL Express Estonia's vehicle fleet.

In the project's first stage, the carrier transported DHL Express internal packages between three offices in Tallinn, Estonia. Soon after, they moved on to serving business customers, and this year, Clevon said it added private customers.

The partners started out with one ARC. It has transported more than 1,200 parcels in the past year and traveled more than 4,400 miles (7,000 km) in all four seasons, according to the startup.

Clevon explained that its robot delivers packages on all business days to DHL Express customers across Tallinn, including its historic Old Town. While access to the UNESCO-listed Old Town is typically strictly restricted, the carrier has worked with the city government to operate.

ARC is fully electric, reducing noise and air pollution in Old Town, asserted Clevon.

Customers give ARC high marks

“A driverless robot continues to create a lot of positive excitement among fellow road users and tourists because this kind of technology is still rarely seen on public roads worldwide,” the company said.

It also noted that end customers have been very satisfied with its robotic delivery service and have given it a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 81%. The NPS is calculated on a scale of 0 to 10 by subtracting the percentage of detractors (below 7) from the percentage of promoters (9 or 10) based on responses to the question of recommending a product or service.

Customers indicated that they consider the robot fast and easy to use, and that they are willing to receive parcels from ARC in the future, said Clevon.

Partners manage middle-mile, last-mile shipments

“Is a robot a more efficient courier than a human?” asked Clevon rhetorically.

“The collaboration aims to find the most suitable use cases and operational formats for robot couriers that will make last-mile package deliveries more cost-effective and, therefore, support the wider adoption of self-driving carriers,” it said. “So far, we have successfully tested a number of service models to deliver a well-planned, optimized, and user-friendly service.”

One such model combines the middle and last mile, which the partners call “Flower” because of its visual representation (see below). The goal is to use the vehicle whose characteristics are best for a particular delivery.

Clevon flower scheme

The “Flower” model combines middle-mile and last-mile delivery services. Click on image to enlarge. Source: Clevon

DHL Express vans, which can carry more and travel longer distances, transport packages in the middle mile from the terminal to designated locations in the city, while Clevon said its ARC handles the most time-consuming part, the last mile. This reduces the robot's empty trips and increases the overall delivery efficiency.

The goal is not to have robots replace human couriers, but for each to play a role in delivery services, said DHL's Laaneots.

“Finding people for courier work is increasingly difficult, but we see an opportunity here for them to focus on offering premium services at a fair price while self-driving robots can help us deliver more packages faster,” she said.

Laaneots added that the collaboration with Clevon is just beginning. “I'm so pleased that it's here in Estonia where we can experiment with new technologies and then introduce them within the DHL Group, which is interested in self-driving solutions, although big wheels turn slowly,” she noted.

“Clevon’s self-driving delivery technology has global demand,” added Sander Sebastian Agur, CEO of Clevon. “With partners like DHL and our strong team, we are making last-mile transportation autonomous and sustainable with determined steps.”

Clevon expands partnerships

“DHL Express is our longest-standing partner who is very much open to innovations,” Agur said. “We have tested several approaches with them and received valuable feedback on our product and end-customer expectations. This, in turn, has set a good starting point for growing DHL's last-mile autonomous service in Estonia and elsewhere in the world.”

Clevon said its delivery systems are based on 15 years of experience in robotics and automation. In 2022, the Viljandi, Estonia-based company spun out of robotic click-and-collect innovator Cleveron.

Last year, Clevon also introduced the third-generation ARC, which it claimed was the first robot to offer autonomous delivery services on public roads in Europe. It started with the DHL Express Estonia parcel deliveries.

More recently, Clevon has delivered parcels with with PostNet in Texas, as well as groceries with Colruyt Group in Belgium and IKI stores in Lithuania. The company said its partners such as grocery retailers, food businesses, and logistics providers are seeking safe, reliable, customizable, and sustainable services.

Clevon's Our Autonomous Robot Carriers are now on duty in Northlake, Texas, partnering with PostNet.

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Clevon and DHL provide autonomous delivery services in Tallinn, Estonia.

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