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Autonomous delivery vehicles: Madrid's sandbox to easy market entry for foreign firms

Autonomous delivery vehicles and drones testbed, sandbox, in Madrid
Villaverde Sandbox, Madrid

In the heart of Spain's capital city, a revolution in technology and urban mobility is underway. At the epicenter of this movement is the Mobility Sandbox of Madrid, an innovative environment designed to test and refine technological solutions before their mass-market implementation. The Sandbox, an initiative of the Área Delegada de Innovación y Emprendimiento, is a pioneering project expected to dramatically reshape Madrid's mobility landscape and solidify the city's standing as a global leader in technological innovation.

Autonomous delivery vehicles Sandbox's impact

From a socio-economic perspective, the impact of the Mobility Sandbox is projected to be substantial. The Madrid City Council estimates that the project will create between 3,000 and 5,000 jobs, primarily in the tech sector, and generate an investment of over 300 million euros from large companies and startups. With a testing space of 20 km², located in the district of Villaverde, the Sandbox will become Europe's largest controlled environment for tech innovation, attracting companies worldwide and boosting economic development across the city.

The innovation process

At the heart of the Sandbox's approach is a commitment to facilitating the innovation process for companies looking to bring their prototypes to the streets. By streamlining procedures and accelerating processes, the Sandbox not only provides a safe and controlled environment for testing but also positions Madrid as a prime location for tech companies and startups worldwide.

One of the most compelling examples of the Sandbox's potential is the autonomous grocery delivery project, "Delivers AI." Launched by Madrid Futuro and developed in partnership with EIT Urban Mobility, Deliverect, B4Motion, Urbvan, Ayesa, and the Madrid City Council, "Delivers AI" is the first autonomous and electric grocery delivery service in Madrid. The service, currently available in the San Blas-Canillejas district, improves citizens' quality of life and reduces CO2 emissions by providing quick and efficient grocery deliveries.

Autonomous delivery vehicles and drones testbed, sandbox, in Madrid
Delivers Ai autonomous delivery robot during its pilot test

The operation of the autonomous vehicle is executed in two phases: route mapping with a driver, followed by autonomous last-mile delivery. With a journey duration of approximately 20 minutes and a load capacity of up to 60 kg, the electric vehicle can make multiple deliveries in a single journey, demonstrating the future of autonomous urban logistics.

Case studies

The Sandbox's impact is not limited to autonomous delivery. EIT Urban Mobility has developed five projects in collaboration with Madrid City Council that showcase the range of innovations emerging from the Mobility Sandbox. These projects span a wide variety of areas, including sustainable transport, parking solutions, and traffic monitoring.

The "Smart Point" project, for example, addresses the issue of "last-mile" delivery. By setting up urban logistics micro-platforms, the project aims to reduce the number of delivery vans in the city center and decrease CO2 emissions. Another project, "CityBike," offers a new electric bicycle rental service, providing citizens with a convenient and eco-friendly transport alternative.

Another exciting project is "ParkFinder," a mobile app that guides drivers to free parking spots in the city. By reducing the time spent looking for parking, the app aims to decrease traffic congestion and carbon emissions. The "Valeet" project brings innovation to airport parking, using an app-based valet service that simplifies the parking process for travellers.

Finally, the "Sustainable Corridors" project aims to increase the use of sustainable transport methods by improving the accessibility and convenience of public transport routes, making it easier for citizens to choose eco-friendly transport options.

Looking ahead

While the Mobility Sandbox has already made significant strides, its future potential remains vast. As an innovation accelerator, the Sandbox is expected to catapult Madrid into the top ten smart cities worldwide. With over 300 million euros of projected investment from major companies and startups, the Sandbox is poised to become a hotbed for groundbreaking projects in mobility and technology.

For example, the success of the "Delivers AI" project could pave the way for more autonomous delivery services in the future. The possibility of autonomous vehicles handling everything from grocery delivery to public transportation could reshape urban life, making cities more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Moreover, the Sandbox's influence isn't restricted to Madrid alone. Its success could serve as a blueprint for other cities around the world, inspiring them to adopt similar initiatives and embrace technological innovations in urban mobility.


In conclusion, the Mobility Sandbox represents a significant step forward for Madrid and the broader tech industry. By providing a secure and controlled environment for tech companies to test and refine their innovations, the Sandbox is not just transforming urban mobility in Madrid; it's also positioning the city as a global leader in technological innovation.

Beyond the Sandbox's economic impact – job creation, investment generation, and economic development – the project also holds the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life in Madrid. By fostering innovations that enhance urban mobility, reduce CO2 emissions, and improve citizen services, the Mobility Sandbox is helping to build a smarter, more sustainable future for Madrid and cities worldwide.

As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of urbanisation and environmental sustainability, projects like the Mobility Sandbox offer a beacon of hope. By harnessing the power of technology and innovation, we can create cities that are not just smart, but also sustainable, efficient, and livable. The Mobility Sandbox of Madrid is leading the way, and the world is watching with eager anticipation.

Check our exhaustive article on the legal and regulatory framework for autonomous delivery vehicles here.


At iBerotech, we are a consulting firm based in Madrid, Spain, established in 2014. Our primary mission is to assist foreign lenders in successfully entering the Spanish market. In essence, iBerotech offers expertise in market entry initial operational setup, business development, risk management, hiring and people development.




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