Personally, I’m looking forward to a world where any given crowd scene is liberally peppered with robots of all kinds. The kind of thing movies like Star Wars have been preparing me for since I was a kid, dreaming of weaving around R2 units as I go anywhere. Finally, it looks like this dream will be happening, because we’re all too lazy to get our own lunches.
Starship Technologies has been developing and testing their little hexawheeled delivery drones for months and they’ve driven over 5,000 miles, and now they’re ready to actually go to work, delivering food to people (and cats that have figured out how to order tuna online) in London, Dusseldorf, Bern and another undisclosed German city.
The little robots look sort of like a small, modernized Lunokhod, and have a range of about 2-3 miles. The cargo volume can hold about two grocery bags’ worth of stuff, and it is lockable, with the person who ordered able to unlock the robot using a phone app.
The little delivery bots drive at about 4 MPH, and seem to be programmed to defer to pedestrians and other traffic as much as possible. Since they’re ground-based, they won’t be subject to the FAA’s strict drone policies, which should make their jobs much cheaper and easier.
They appear to use a series of cameras and GPS to navigate their way around, and it looks like they steer tank-style, driving the wheels on either side forward or reverese independently.
They’re tracked by GPS, and there will be people watching them, so if you plan on grabbing one and using a crowbar to get at that sweet, sweet Ruben with a side of fries inside, you’ll probably get caught and it won’t be worth it.
This idea reminds me a lot of a scaled-down version of my Apple car idea I had last year. I think robotic delivery vehicles of this type have the potential to be really useful, so I’m quite curious to see how this turns out.
So much of this success depends on whether or not we humans will be jerks to these robots. Will people run their cars into them, or kick them over, or tag them or molest them or whatever? Sure, some people probably will.
Maybe they need to come equipped with onboard tasers. That would make life exciting.