Robots give Greece's postal service speed boost

Robots transport parcels at the Hellenic Post's sorting centre in Kryoneri, Greece, October 4, 2021. Picture taken October 4, 2021. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - There's a new addition to Greece's postal service: a fleet of yellow robots sorting through the mail.

Fifty-five small, four-wheeled autonomous mobile robots -- or AMR's -- powered by artificial intelligence, glide around Hellenic Post's sorting centre in Athens, speeding up an often arduous process.

They scan the postal code, weigh the package and, directed by sensors, empty it into the corresponding mail sacks set up around a platform.

The robots are part of the state-owned company's digital restructuring programme, which aims to tackle growing numbers of parcels from online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Until recently, sorting has been carried out by manual labour with a high demand in time, often with errors occurring, causing delivery delays for our customers and increased costs for the company," Hellenic Post Chief Executive George Constantopoulos told Reuters.

Up to 80% of parcel sorting has been handed over to the robots and Constantopoulos said the process was up to three times faster, ensuring next-day delivery.

The robots can handle as many as 168,000 parcels weighing up to 15 kg a day and only need to be recharged every four hours for 5 minutes.

"The purpose is not to replace human workers with robots, but rather to augment human workforces and make them more efficient," Constantopoulos said.

(Writing by Phoebe Fronista; Editing by Karolina Tagaris and Alison Williams)

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