Yandex and MAF partner on robot delivery from Carrefour stores in Dubai

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Yandex has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail, and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, to enhance Carrefour’s last-mile delivery capabilities via autonomous technology solutions. The partnership will make Carrefour the first omnichannel retailer in the region to use self-driving robots to deliver orders.

Carrefour customers in selected neighborhoods across the UAE will be able to receive their online orders via Yandex autonomous delivery robots, as part of a pilot program set to launch in early 2022. The joint project, which follows high demand for online retail services, will introduce innovative robotic delivery to Carrefour customers, while other benefits will include lower emissions compared to traditional delivery methods.

The signing ceremony was held at the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport 2021 on 27 October, and was attended by His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer, Director General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA); Hani Weiss, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Retail; and Artem Fokin, Head of Business Development at Yandex Self-Driving Group.

The partnership reimagines the integration of robots into daily life. Powered by autonomous vehicle technology, Yandex’s delivery robots can efficiently plan the safest route in real time, detect approaching vehicles and pedestrians, and travel at speeds of up to 8 km/h on sidewalks or other pedestrian areas. As the Yandex self-driving robots navigate the streets, customers will be able to track their movement in real time on the MAF Carrefour App.

Dmitry Polishchuk, CEO of Yandex Self-Driving Group, said: “The demand for automated last-mile delivery continues to grow across the world. Not only businesses, but also cities and even whole states have now taken an interest in this technology. Autonomous delivery has the potential to improve life for people in cities, while helping companies optimize their logistics and cut down the costs. Yandex robots have already delivered tens of thousands of orders in the USA and Russia. We appreciate the support from RTA and together with Majid Al Futtaim we will explore the opportunities to bring the advantages of robotic delivery to Dubai’s daily life.”

Hani Weiss, chief executive officer of Majid Al Futtaim Retail, said: “As a leading retailer, driving the retail industry into the future is our responsibility. Together with Yandex, and with the ongoing support of the RTA, we are excited to explore this innovative new last mile solution to offer our customers greater flexibility, convenience and speed with their online orders. What was once considered science fiction, we are delighted that the wheels are in motion for Carrefour to start delivering orders via self-driving, fully automated robots.”

This partnership marks yet another development in the UAE’s fourth industrial revolution as Majid Al Futtaim expands its digital and data capabilities. The leading retailer has launched several technologically advanced initiatives in 2021, including opening its Carrefour Automated-Fulfilment Centre (a robotised storage picking facility that prepares orders within minutes) and introducing Carrefour City+ (the region’s first check-out-free store powered by artificial intelligence). Both exist as prime examples of how robotics and automated technology can tangibly improve efficiency and elevate the customer experience.