Within a year, our nation’s capital could have a little army of robots booping and beeping around just like every other busy-bee pedestrian going about their business. Starship Technologies, a tech company with roots in London and Estonia (yes, it’s a real country, look it up) is planning to unleash their platoon of robots, not to take over humanity, but to make deliveries.
There may not be any charming little chirps that you’d expect from R2-D2, but it does look like the little robotic buddy you’d want delivering your packages. This little white device, that totally looks like a cooler on wheels, can carry 20-25 pounds up to two miles away.
Earlier this year, the robots had begun rolling autonomously all throughout London and Tallinn (Estonia’s capital, if you looked it up you’d know that) using digital maps to navigate their way to the destination. If they get stuck, which it likely would, they can be guided online by an operator. And, as a bonus, the delivery wouldn’t cost much more than a regular delivery fee. It would be about $1 to $3 a trip, with a goal of dropping below $1, according to company executives.
This zippy little thing charmed and scooted its way into the office of Councilwoman Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), who actually authored D.C.’s autonomous vehicle legislation that took effect in 2013, which allows driverless cars on city roads as long as a human is present and can take controls. This delivery bot only touches the street when it crosses the street. So, no legal issues.
Cheh has been a total cheerleader for delivery bots to be implemented into day-to-day business. She, along with Starship Technologies officials, organized one of the robots to deliver legislation to city council. It delivered Council Secretary Nyasha Smith’s office a three-page bill. So, a robot was able to accomplish more legislative work than any human government worker (ba-dum psh!)
These robots also consume less energy than your average light bulb, adding to its already environmental upsides. Because it’s able to travel up to two miles away, that means less delivery vehicles coughing up all that CO2 into the atmosphere. You’re welcome, beeps the delivery bots.
Testing will begin in the southern U.S. very soon, with a couple of delivery bots in each major city. Starship Technologies hopes to reach a commercial scale sometime next year. Company executives will likely sell these bots to other businesses. So, you could see different versions of these guys: a Domino’s delivery bot, an Amazon delivery bot, maybe even a GrubHub delivery bot could be scooting around your local community.
And to those who continuously fear the robot apocalypse, at 40lbs and traveling up to 4 miles per hour, you’d have to be pretty damn skittish if you think these little buddies are a threat.
Best part? They don’t need a tip.