Delivery Robots

Delivery Robots

There is a company called Starship Technologies which is currently testing some food delivery robots. Shaped like a locked food hamper with wheels the idea is to use them for the short distance food delivery orders that normal couriers are usually unhappy to do. Each one trundles along at 4 mph along the pavements and then sends you a text when it arrives. This text will have the code needed to unlock the robot and receive your food.

 A Starship Robot. The designers put in effort to make them look endearing so that humans wouldn't mess with them.

A Starship Robot. The designers put in effort to make them look endearing so that humans wouldn't mess with them.

They work mostly autonomously, navigating around people and other obstacles. They are even able to mount pavements and climb small sets of steps. For those times when they get stuck the humans back at the control centre can take over the manual controls and free them. There are cameras in place, but also speakers and a microphone in case the controller needs to speak to the public through it (like to talk to someone trying to break into one). If one does get stolen then they have a GPS in them to track the theft, although they are yet to have any crime committed against them.

Trials began last July in London and Berlin in conjuncture with Just Eat and Pronto. Now, as of February this year the 70 or so test robots are all in a similar trial in a couple of US cities. The average journey is somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes which is comparable to human delivery speed, but the idea is that you can have a handful of human controllers only stepping in occasionally to deal with stuck robots. This lets them oversee a huge number of deliveries for the cost of one human salary. The cost of each robot of around $2000 dollars, which is significantly below the cost of a human.

All in all this is the same technology as driverless cars (autos) but applied to a different field. The whole thing could be applied to non food delivery as well since the robots can handle up to 20 lbs of cargo.

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