“Better not lose that pizza, robot”

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.

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Source: Starship Technologies

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.

 

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Drone nearly crashing on a skier at live event

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!

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4 thoughts on ““Better not lose that pizza, robot”

  1. Wow you definitely raised some concerning issues with drones that didnt even occur to me.

    As you said, I think we are a few years away until we start seeing robot deliveries here in Australia, but it is something that we do need to start discussing.

    It will definitely be sad that a lot of people will lose their jobs from robot deliveries though, what will happen to all the couriers and Australia Post?

    Furthermore, does this mean that delivery fees will be cheaper….or FREE?

    I think there many important considerations, and we need to carefully take into account what impact robots might have on our futures.

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    1. The issue with the potential loss of jobs due to robotization is actually a highly debated one. Some argue that similar to the transition from horse carriages to cars there will be a shift in demand for workers (from carriage drivers to car manufacturing jobs). In contrast, there are also voices to be heard which say that the loss of jobs, as couriers for instance, can not be compensated by other areas.
      This will definitely be an important topic to talk about in order to prevent a large economic gap between those having access to robots and those not.

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  2. Interesting issue on drone deliveries. In my opinion, drones can’t go everywhere. Not delivery goes to the easy-to-reach front porches of suburban homes. Are drones going to fly up the stairwells in office towers and apartment buildings? And how are they going to navigate the rat’s nest of utility wires in various neighborhoods?
    And then we have the issue of weather. Hence, I do feel that technology still has some way to go before robots and drones can be effective delivery methods in the future.

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  3. Wow, I didn’t believe people were lazy enough that they had to rely on a robot to bring them food! Where did the days of innovative cooking go! Nothing beats home-made bacon and eggs to cure a hangover, or home-made pizzas on a Friday watching the footy. It’s a great idea, but i’m not sold on hiring a robot to do a job someone qualified could do.

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