Apparently, the dream of getting yourself a hot pizza delivered right to your doorknob is starting to become reality. Starship Technologies just announced that their collaboration with Domino’s resulting in pizza deliveries using their robots starts this summer in Hamburg, Germany.
According to the press release, the deliveries will take place within a 2 km radius of the store and the 6 wheeled food cart will travel up to 6 km/h. If the customer is qualified for robot delivery and opts in their order will be delivered by the small machine. Curbs and crossing light do not seem to be a problem and are overcome using very precise and detailed geographic maps. After testing deliveries in Hamburg the service is planned to roll out to other cities in Germany and the Netherlands.
This announcement marks the “next” effort of a big multinational to move into automated deliveries. Following Amazon’s experiments with drone deliveries, they just completed their first US drone delivery at their MARS conference last week (see below).
These steps pose the questions: How close are we to autonomous goods deliveries? and How will this change the way we order products?
Concerning the first one, I think we are still a couple of years away from the breakthrough of autonomous deliveries. While the endeavors of companies like Amazon or Starship Technologies are important and fascinating, there are other issues to solve apart from the technical side. A major one is certainly legislation. Especially important for air-based robots (aka drones), the question of how policymakers ensure the safety of their communities needs to be answered. After all, you don’t want two drones crashing into each other and potentially hurting (or killing) somebody on the ground.
Maybe an even more complex issue is of social nature. Do people “trust” their deliveries to be fulfilled by non-human machines? Are they afraid that their order might be stolen or shot from the sky by some clown? All these questions are hard to answer right now and it will be interesting to follow how these things play out once robots and drones become less of a rare occurrence.
What do you think? Are you convinced that it will be common to have your new phone delivered by drone or robot in the future? What challenges do you see along the way? Looking forward to your thoughts in the comment section!