Delivery droids doing service in Europe soon
FROM this month, pedestrians in the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland will begin sharing their pavements with robot couriers. The self-driving delivery droids are being rolled out as part of a pilot by Starship Technologies, working with a number of major industry partners.
Starship Technologies was set up in 2014 by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, with the aim of revolutionising local deliveries. The robots are designed for delivering packages, groceries and food to consumers in a threeto five-kilometre radius and travel at a “brisk walking speed” of six kilometres per hour on average, but can travel at up to 16 km/h.
They are built with off-the-shelf components, such as an Nvidia Tegra K1 processor, to keep the costs down. They also make use of a number of conventional cameras, a 360° camera and infrared and ultrasonic sensors to navigate autonomously, but are monitored by human operators in control centres who can take control at any time if required.
Starship has been testing the robots in 12 countries for nine months. Around 8 000 km are said to have been covered and over 400 000 people encountered without any accidents.
The robot will take between 15 to 30 minutes to arrive and, once it has arrived, the customer will be sent a unique Pin code with which to access the lid of the robot and take the goods. The robot will then return to its base.
Starship said the combination of Pin-only access and remote tracking makes the robot delivery system both safe and secure. There are also nine cameras in total that can capture the actions of any potential aggressors. In addition, they feature two-way audio so that operators in the control room can speak to people who might approach the robots.
Location tracking is said to be to the nearest few centimetres, so they can be found easily if stolen.
The robots are electric and have four motors that drive six wheels, with power coming from lithium batteries that last for about three hours. Starship Technologies said it could easily increase the battery capacity by a factor of 10, but that the robots are currently being transported a lot by plane and they can’t fly on a plane with a battery any larger. — Gizmag.