The next – and arguably most important – stage of the robotic revolution is about to commence: self-driving take-away deliveries.
Food delivery website Just Eat is set to start using automated robots to deliver take-away orders in London later this month.
The small six-wheeled robots will carry their delicious cargo along at a sedate 4mph, employing GPS tracking and on-board cameras and sensors to navigate to your front door. When they arrive, you’ll simply type in a code to open the lid and fetch out your food order.
So far tests have taken place in Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Glastonbury, with 30 robots covering 5,000 miles to date. There have been no accidents or malfunctions reported so far.
Now Just Eat is about to commence a commercial rollout via a partnership with the robot’s creator, Starship Technologies, which was founded in 2014 by the co-founders of Skype.
The key advantage here appears to be cost. It will cost just £1 to transport a food order three miles using one of these robots.
There’s also a need for more delivery coverage. “In busy times there’s a shortage of supply drivers,” says Just Eat chief executive David Buttress (via Sky News). “These will enable restaurants to meet the demand.”
As for public reaction to these curious machines, Allan Martinson of Starship Technologies claims that most people have been unfazed. Kids, of course, love them.
“We’ve seen them try to chase it, hug it. One person tried to feed it a banana,” says Martinson.
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Of course, these are expensive pieces of kit, and each robot is kitted out with a movement sensor that sends an alert if it detects that it’s being lifted off the ground.
There’ll be no free dinners with these robots, it seems.
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Would you be happy placing your Friday night take-away order in the hands of a robot? Let us know in the comments.