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Agricultural Economics and Management Journal   ISSN 0205-3845
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Delivery Robots for Smart Rural Development
Gunnar Prause, Ivan Boevsky
Abstract: Rural areas in Europe suffer under demographic change and migration to urban areas which caused problems in supply, mobility and medical care for remaining population. Thus, new solutions are required for rural areas to solve shortcoming in retailing, waste disposal, postal and administrational issues since all related services become more and more inefficient from the perspective of service providers. Here, the concept of “smart rural areas” can contribute to solutions since it targets on non-urban areas and tries to improve the development perspectives of rural areas by using digitalization and smart approaches to overcome all mentioned shortcomings in rural areas. Delivery robots represent smart logistics systems and they are able to solve important logistics problems in rural areas. Originally, autonomously driving delivery robots were constructed for last-mile deliveries of packages with a focus on urban environments but recent research also highlights the possibility of their application in rural areas. Since the use of autonomous delivery robots represents a neglected research topic until now, this paper analyses tentative applications of delivery robots in rural environments and develops concepts to overcome shortcomings in logistics with these robots. Delivery robots can be considered as cyberphysical systems in the sense of Industry 4.0 so that this research also contributes to the field of smart rural development. The underlying research question focuses on how autonomous delivery robots might facilitate smart rural development. The empirical measures of the paper are based on semi-structured expert interviews, research group meetings, secondary data, and results from case studies from Estonia and Bulgaria.
Keywords: autonomous transport; delivery robots; digitalization; rural areas; smart rural development
Date published: 2019-02-28
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