Monday, November 2, 2015

attempting to revolutionize delivery

Starship technologies, a startup out of London, revealed their self-driving delivery robot today. The robot moves at 4mph, which according to the article from the Washington post is “slightly faster than a pedestrian but slower than a jogger.” The robot weighs about 40 pounds and is estimated to make deliveries to local areas in about 30 minutes or less. The company suggests that this technology would be useful for neighborhood restaurants and retailers. They argue that the slow speed and on the ground approach takes away from the concerns of drone delivery.
The cargo bay is to be locked and can only be opened with the help of the app that the customer must have downloaded to use this service. This app will also allow you to track the location of the drone and the estimated time of delivery. Although the drone is 99% self-driving it does have an option of human navigation. This is for when it gets in sticky situations or needs the assistance of a human. The robot also has sensors that will allow it to know if a car is coming up to 200 meters away. It is said to cross the street much like a human would. The robot also has cameras and a speaker so that the operator can speak to humans if needed, as well as scare off potential thieves by stating that is has a gps tracking system and the police will be alerted of there location.
One problem I see with this service is that is takes away many jobs that young people are eligible for, such as pizza delivery. Another major factor is that, although I am not completely familiar with the locking mechanism and security of the robot, it would not be to hard for a thief to simply break into the robot and run away as fast as he/she could. Moving at 4mph and sticking out like a sore thumb, the robot isn’t exactly inconspicuous. I don’t see this technology being of much use in society for another 5-10 years, but wont the bugs are worked out and the programing updated, I could see this service becoming very widely accepted and used. Especially in the United States. 

Link to article:

Video of Robot:


  1. I agree with you on a lot of the points you have said here. I too think that this new product can benefit local stores improve their delivery services. Though that being said, I have thought of more even more implications that might arrive from this new deliver system before it can be completely operational. My number one concern would be the weather and terrain. I see this little robot have difficulties operating in poor weather conditions like a possible snow or rainstorm. Also operating in terrains like hilly or rocky gravel surfaces could present a problem. These conditions combined with the slow travel speeds could cause the food to become delayed or possible not even delivered at all. This could damage the company’s reputation and customer satisfaction greatly. Another problem would be multiple orders at once. Due to the small storage space I see that this robot would have to be constantly coming back to the store to refill with the inventory, in this case the food. Thus unable to fill multiple orders at once even further delays the delivery time, especially for restaurant with a high volume of customers. This is unpractical especially in local businesses that pride them selves on “fresh hot deliverers”. My last area of concern would be with the shape of the robot it self. I see this robot having a hard time adapting to the different shapes of all the boxes used for delivery, especially the typical pizza box. This would cause only certain types of products to be able to go out to delivery, causing major issues for the business. If these problems are addresses I see this product having a big impact in the delivery service industry.

  2. Danny found a very intriguing route to changing the delivery system. My immediate thought of a 40lb robot traveling around neighborhoods/streets as if they were a normal pedestrian brought up a few different problems. What’s to stop somebody from stealing merchandise, the robot itself, or just destroying the robot? Even in today’s technological world, they’d attract a lot of attention in the street and draw more destruction than production in my opinion. Danny brought up how these robots can take away concerns of drone delivery by air, but what is to stop someone from shooting a robot on the street from shooting one out of the air? I don’t think people will feel very comfortable with these robots transporting around.

    Even with the cargo bay, cameras/speakers, and gps tracking location I don’t believe potential thieves or harmers will be scared off. Think about it, it’s a little 40lb robot. And would it really be worth the $ and time to call police when one of these gets destroyed or goes missing? I don’ think so. While I think the idea is innovative and could somehow be a part of our future, I don’t see this robot ending up being very practical. People are becoming more accustomed to technology everyday, but seeing this product roaming around could lead to more negative impacts than success in my opinion.

  3. I completely agree with you when you said this type of technology could take away jobs from people that are desperately in need of one. Is that really what we need for society today? Also, what are we really accomplishing with this? It is almost as if humans intend to make these types of things just to say that they exist. Using people as of right now is definitely the most effective method. If there was a way to use this robot in conjunction with humans I could see it being successful. Having an operator for the machine is a step in the right direction but still doesn’t seem to solve the problem of theft and weather. What happens when it snows? The entire business would have to shut down for the day. Also, if a competitor or a hacker gets into the system they could destroy the entire software of the robot and then your business is done for. A company that relies independently on technology will not be successful at this point in time.


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