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Delivery robots. Cute, aren’t they?

December 13, 2017

Delivery robots. Cute, aren’t they?

This post is also available in : Spanish

Delivery robots; they are here to stay. Find out more about them

You have not seen them on the street yet, but you will see them very soon. They have around 4 and 6 wheels, and they are less than one meter long but you will be able to spot them very easily. For some people, these robots can be quite futuristic, but others find them cute. These are called delivery robots, small gadgets that can deliver anything, from parcels to food. But where did they come from?

In recent years, due to the evolution of technology, some companies – especially large online stores – have shown a special interest in devices for delivering parcels.

From drones to delivery robots, the ultimate goal is to lower the prices of home delivery by getting rid of the human labour (This annoys a lot of people, specially those people who work in courier service).

But, does this surprise you? I am sure that you have seen a science fiction film in which small robots in wheels circulate with humans while doing all kinds of activities. Some of these films have even become extremely popular (Do we need to mention the name of these films?)

But what is the situation of delivery robots at this point? Will it take a long time to have them around us?
And also, when will they be able to circulate on the streets?

This last question has been answered only a few months ago, during the month of June 2017. Estonia is the first European country to allow delivery robots on the pavement. Of course, these delivery robots have to meet some technical requirements, for example, they cannot exceed one meter in height, 1.2 meters in length and 50 kg in weight. In addition to this, they have to be white, with red reflectors and lights so that they can be seen at night.

Starship Technologies knows this very well. This company founded in 2014 develops delivery robots, and although there are some other companies that also develop delivery robots, Starship Technologies is the most popular one. This same technology is also being tested in several European cities, including London, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Bern, and it is being used for food delivery by some restaurants.

According to some people, one of the main goals of this, as we mentioned earlier, is to reduce shipping costs. Thus, they say that delivery robots could reduce shipping costs from 12 pounds (which is the average shipping cost in the central area of ​​London), to only 1 pound per shipment.

Starship says that the robots have been tested in 5,000 miles, and that they have come across 400,000 humans, without causing any accidents. Also, reactions of people who came across them in the street have been positive.

Let us show you how these delivery robots work and look like.
You can do so by clicking in the following video, uploaded to YouTube by Robotics Trends:

The main goal of this type of technology is to be totally (or partially) autonomous. So, shortly – perhaps in months – when receiving an order from a customer, the robot will go to collect the food -or any other object to transport- to the place where the food is prepared, it will keep it inside, and will take it to its destination. When arriving to the desire place, the receiver will enter a code, which will be sent through an app, and these delivery robots will open themselves, and just like this, the delivery is completed.

Also, there are some new plans for these delivery robots to work not only on the streets but also in different places and situations. In fact, there are already some developments that seek the distribution of all types of objects with robots that are capable of moving autonomously inside office buildings. With this type of robots – which will also be able to use the lift, you will not have to go to the door to get the parcel.

If we take a look at the future, it is very likely that these little gadgets will share the streets with us. It might be shocking at first, but over time they will be familiar to us. As you can imagine, they will not only transport food, but they will also be used to move all kinds of objects. For example, in some countries, such as Switzerland, they are also being tested by the national postal service.

The incorporation of these little gadgets into our streets raises all kinds of doubts. For example, should they be protected legally?

But before we get into that, their manufacturers will have to overcome all kinds of technical challenges.

On the one hand, it is essential that they are safe enough so that they don’t cause accidents, especially in busy areas. Another question that always comes to mind when thinking about them is the security of the robots themselves. How will they avoid suffering damage? What if someone gets hungry ‘’all of a sudden’’ and wants to keep a small robot? These are questions that the manufacturers of delivery robots should take into account.

It is very likely, just like many other current devices, that in the future this type of robots will need to be monitored to control their proper functioning.

If you want to know more about monitoring, you are in the right place. Check out any of the great articles in this blog!

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