USPS Robotic Arm Patent Approved

In August, the USPS was granted a patent for a sorting robot intended to work inside a delivery truck’s freight bay while making deliveries.

The robot will grasp items and move them between storage bins, grouping mail and packages together to be delivered to the same address and shrink wrapping them.

It is suggested that the robotic arm would be able to pass items through a window from the freight bay into the cab of a delivery vehicle to the driver for delivery, and one or more robotic arms could be used in a single vehicle.

The robot outlined in the patent is not complicated. The arm would have some dexterity, commonly seen in today’s manufacturing environment already, but it could replace some of the work generally performed by humans. Most mail and parcels come to a local post office presorted by zip code but must be further grouped by route and address from there. Performing the final phase of this sorting while driving to the delivery point, could cut down on delivery time and labor.

Just because a patent is granted does not mean a technology will ever see the light of day. However, labor has been a source of financial strain for the USPS, so technological solutions are being considered with more weight than in previous times.

The patent states that current methods of delivery are expensive, at least in part due to labor costs. Methods and systems to reduce the human workload along a delivery route are needed to reduce the cost.

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