People are on the go these days. So much so, that it seems some tasks, such as grocery shopping, are becoming more mundane and inconvenient. Many stores have risen to the occasion by offering online ordering with parking lot pick-up and even delivery. But what if a robot could perform the task of delivery? What implications does this have for time management, affordability, and the environment? These are all questions being evaluated as Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis have started development on just this concept with Starship Technologies robofleet (credit www.theregister.co.uk).
Efficient – The Starship robots are capable of delivering two bags of groceries within 30 minutes. I can think of numerous times this would have saved me money and calories by avoiding restaurants or takeout.
Environmentally Friendly – The units are zero emission. The overall carbon footprint will be very low (as determined by such things as items sourced for the construction and delivery of units, etc.).
Safe – The units move at a rate of 6km per hour (which equates to 3.72mph). The bots will also be equipped with features such as object avoidance and the ability to adjust speed and cross traffic safely.
Oversight – The platform being developed by Starship will allow for human oversight. This will enable companies to override the bots as needed.
Cost Effective – Once the upfront costs for the platform and fleet of bots is covered, companies will begin to quickly see a return on investment. The particulars on this will need to be monitored more as time passes.
Reduction in Traffic Congestion – Because the bots are small enough and slow enough, they are able to travel on sidewalks and in bike lanes. This will help reduce traffic in and around the city. Because of this, these devices can be seen as a valuable resource in any Smart City Solution.
Reduction in Accidents caused by Intoxicated Drivers – Many people who drink or use recreational drugs decide to go out for a quick burger run, etc. Having other options for delivery will help further reduce issues caused by these risky activities.
App Enabled – As with anything today, people want to be in the know. Customers will be able to track their delivery from their smartphone, tablet or PC.