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Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

Posted April 14, 2017 11:00 AM by MaggieMc

Around the holidays, you may have heard about the fancy little robots [video] Amazon uses in its warehouses to get goods from shelves to pickers—or more accurately, to get the shelves to the pickers. There are other options for freight robots too, like these Fetch robots featured on IEEE Spectrum.

If you’re fascinated by these little warehouse-delivery robots, you may be pleased to learn that similar robots, from Starship Technologies, are going to be zooming around cities near you before you know it. They may even be headed straight to your door.

In fact, these robots are already motoring around Washington D.C., delivering takeout food from restaurants, and learning the sidewalks.

As described by Nick Handrick, the D.C. director of operations for Starship Technologies in a ride-along with NPR, the robots are “pretty small [and] pretty cute.” More specifically, the robot they’re following is “about knee-high and looks like a medium-sized cooler on six wheels.” Those six little wheels are pretty important, because they can actually walk up and over curbs. The robots have an almost 360-degree view thanks to cameras, and they can recognize “stoplights, crossing signs, things like that.”

The robots have tough security measures, according to Starship Technologies. Still, BuzzFeed News decided to put that to the test, so they attempted to “steal” a meal from one of the robots.

The video also talks with DoorDash, a last-mile logistics infrastructure provider for the restaurant industry. These robots are a Starship Technologies creation, but they are currently delivering meals for DoorDash. Stanley Tang, the cofounder of DoorDash, said in the BuzzFeed News video: “we actually see robots as something that’s very complimentary to our human dashers. These robots are

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#1

Re: Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

04/14/2017 9:28 PM

The illustration shows the robot leaving an elevator. How did it push the button for the floor? Maybe it waits for a human to enter the elevator and asks. And how did it get in the building to start with? Most times you have to open a door. Maybe ask a passing human? So many questions...

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#4
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Re: Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

04/15/2017 11:36 AM

"How did it push the button for the floor?"

Sonic screwdriver.

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#2

Re: Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

04/15/2017 5:05 AM

Not wanting to sound alarmist, but these appear to be perfect delivery vehicles for any sort of explosive or chemical or biological devices. Who needs suicide bombers.

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Re: Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

04/15/2017 8:26 AM

Good point, especially in DC. I would stay well clear of them.

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Re: Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

04/16/2017 9:59 AM

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#7
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Re: Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

04/16/2017 9:11 PM

You mean like,,,,The Dead Pool ?

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#9
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Re: Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

04/21/2017 12:43 PM

"You called?"

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#6

Re: Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

04/16/2017 9:11 PM

The video shows this thing crossing the street under ideal conditions: during daylight hours, other pedestrians crossing with it, the crossing light on 'walk', etc.

In the absence of other pedestrians, how does it push the 'walk' button to cross a street?

Fast-forward to night time. Little traffic, poor lighting conditions. Does the thing wait for a 'walk' light or, in the absence of a walk light, a green traffic signal - the same one a driver coming from the opposite direction sees, but the car is hidden by parked cars from the robot's view? Seeing no one crossing, the car whips around the corner and rams into the robot, destroying it and damaging the car - all of this a highly, highly-likely scenario?

In their zeal to deploy their product, how much of this have they really thought through?

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#8

Re: Delivery Bots Dash Around D.C. Sidewalks

04/17/2017 2:53 PM

I can already see some cad placing the body of a lifeless girlfriend in one of these and delivering her somewhere else. Surely the cad would be smart enough to hack the origin address??

How about a first-aid robot? How about a first-aid robot with a flask of brandy?

How about a first-aid robot, with front door to veterinarian front door, pick-up and delivery for cats, small doggies? Saves owners time, although I suspect the poor animals would need counseling, or was that the owners?

I can see these little guys delivering quite a shock to would be thieves, kind of like R2D2 would. They could use some of the charms that little fellow had.

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