Delivery Robots Coming to San Francisco
MIT Technology Review reported on a venture by Starship Technologies to bring delivery services by robot to consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area by the end of the year. The company rolled out its service in the UK where consumers can have packages delivered to a depot. From there, they can schedule a time convenient for them to receive a robot-delivered package with their items.
The robot looks like a big cooler on wheels, and consumers schedule their deliveries through a convenient app. Workers load packages inside the bot, and each consumer accepting delivery has a unique security code to enter to unlock and open the robot. The service in the UK runs on a subscription basis where consumers pay a low monthly fee to receive unlimited deliveries each month.
Starship Technologies has tested robot deliveries out in 20 countries covering over 125,000 miles. While it’s not a new idea they’ve cooked up, they are one of the first to bring it to market and scale it to provide delivery services to the public.
The MIT Technology Review article explains the robot device works on ultrasonic sensors, nine cameras, radar, and GPS to help it identify obstacles and find the best route to the delivery site. These robots can easily navigate across roads, around obstacles in their path, and find the exact address to deliver packages.
The key question is: is this something consumers will pay for? Perhaps our “on-demand” society will like getting their packages delivered when and where they want them, so they can have immediate access. Rather than have a package left on your doorstep while you’re at work, especially if you worry about theft, robotic deliveries make sense. And if the price is right, consumers will certainly pay for a service that offers fewer hassles and immediate satisfaction.