New ground-based robotic drones have been tested on busy London streets in an attempt to transform delivery services.

The self-driving, battery-powered box on wheels is expected to undertake local delivery trials in Greenwich, south London, following 3,000 hours of testing recently, the Evening Standard reported.

The robots by Starship Technologies have been described as “ground drones” and were created by former Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis.

Their invention is expected to be popular at smaller local businesses, such as bakeries and corner-shops, which could send out the robot containing goods in its tub body costing only a pound or two.

They are part of a 25-million-euro EU Smart Cities project to test if new and unproven technologies can enhance people’s lives.

An on-board battery lasts for about two hours and the delivery range will be up to 30 minutes away base, guided by GPS using 3G signals.

They travel at up to 4 mph and are programmed with software to help avoid obstacles and are CO2-free, apart from the power used charging batteries.

Allan Martinson, chief operating officer of Starship Technologies, told the newspaper: “We went to the South Bank on a Saturday, near to the London Eye, where it is crowded with lots of tourists and we didn’t have any problems with pedestrians or cyclists”.

An operator can take over control remotely if the robot gets into trouble.

The company says it hopes to replace the need for shopping trips, which is currently the purpose of one-third of British car journeys.

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