Self-driving robot might be future of home delivery
Published Friday, March 25, 2016 10:33PM EDT
The future in home delivery is quickly approaching -- in fact, it’s travelling at six kilometres per hour and has that milk you ordered 10 minutes ago.
Meet the little self-driving robot that could forever change the way you get your stuff.
Under a new company called Starship, the creators of Skype have begun testing an autonomous delivery robot capable of rolling to your house with whatever items you’ve ordered from local businesses.
Looking like a mini fridge on six wheels, the vehicle is turning heads as it cruises around the U.S. capital this week.
“Most of the time the robot is autonomous,” said Starship COO Allan Martinson. “And it knows its location with one-inch precision using computer vision and GPS and some other sensors.”
Martinson sees the machine as being useful for sending out a whole host of everyday items from all sorts of businesses.
“From dry cleaning to bakeries to flower shops to the local grocery stores," he said
The idea is that customers could use their phones to order something online and then use an app to track the robot’s progress. Upon delivery, the customer could unlock the compartment and retrieve their items.
Starship says businesses big and small are expressing interest -- though it might take some time for customers to get used to the idea.
“It’s cute,” one woman laughed after watching the robot drive by. “That's all I know.”
And that unintimidating appearance may just be a selling point compared to other automated delivery services like Amazon’s drones.
“I'm more comfortable with something that's on the sidewalk as opposed to something in the air,” the woman continued.
The robot has sensors that let it stop and avoid any pedestrians or other obstacles. It’s also monitored by humans, who can take over if there are any problems, or activate a speaker to let thieves know they’re being filmed.
Starship has already tested their creation in the U.K. and is now letting it drive around Washington D.C., with hopes it’ll soon begin crawling around sidewalks everywhere.