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Release the hounds: Continental's CES 2019 concept is a robot-spawning robot

A city full of little robot dogs delivering packages sounds pretty great.

"Oh yeah, what are you gonna do? Release the dogs? Or the bees? Or the dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark they shoot bees at you?"

Hey dawg, Continental heard you liked autonomous vehicles, so it put some autonomous vehicles in an autonomous vehicle to revolutionize how packages are delivered.

Continental is using CES 2019 to demonstrate its idea for changing how package delivery works. Instead of relying on a single autonomous vehicle, Continental's "cascading robots" concept fills a large AV shuttle with smaller, canine-inspired delivery robots that autonomously navigate from the shuttle to wherever a package needs to go.

The point of the concept is to highlight areas where autonomy can be implemented above and beyond everybody's current concepts. Autonomous delivery vans aren't even things of the future anymore -- they're already dropping off groceries in Arizona. But when the van arrives, the recipient still needs to walk outside and grab the bags. Continental's solution eliminates that need by replacing human effort with cute little robo-doggos.

"The challenges to a delivery robot parallel what we already solve for in automated vehicles," said Jeremy McClain, director of systems & technology for Continental North America, in a statement. "Plus, delivery robots will require technology that is just as advanced and robust as our automotive solutions."

Autonomy, even without the aforementioned good boys, has the potential to change the logistics in a big way. Self-driving delivery vehicles don't need to limit themselves to eight-hour shifts, so they can operate all day and night, improving the pace of delivery and eliminating highway-snarling traffic during commuting hours. We might still be years away from seeing a solution this comprehensive in public, but we're slowly getting there.