In what could be good news for those looking for a robot companion to carry their groceries, this cargo-carrying robot would be perfect for you this holiday season. Italian company Piaggio is making Gita, which is essentially a two-wheeled rover that can follow you around like a pet dog. But this is clearly not the first we have seen something like this. Technology companies like Amazon, FedEx and Ford have already been experimenting with sending delivery robots to doorsteps.
Gita, with is two wheels, rovers around on its own. It weighs 23 kilograms and costs $3,250 (about Rs 2 lakh 33 thousand). It is designed such that it can hold produce and other objects as it follows its owner down a sidewalk.
"We’re trying to get you out into the world and connected to that neighbourhood you decided to move to because it was so walkable," said Greg Lynn, CEO of Piaggio’s tech-focused subsidiary, Piaggio Fast Forward.
Analysts already describe the Gita as doomed to fail unless it finds a more practical application, such as lugging tools around warehouses, hospitals or factory floors. The Gita doesn’t require a phone or intrusive people-tracking technology such as facial recognition or GPS.
“It basically just locks onto you and tracks you,” said Piaggio Fast Forward’s other co-founder, Jeffrey Schnapp.
Other startups like Starship Technologies have a more conventional business plan for their own delivery robots. The company charges a delivery fee starting at $1.99 if you order its rovers to bring you a Starbucks coffee or a lunch from Panda Express.
Starship co-founder Ahti Heinla said his San Francisco startup once looked at selling the machines directly to consumers but dropped the idea after realizing it would have to price them at more than $3,000.
Amazon is experimenting with a similar-looking machine that delivers retail goods in a handful of U.S. neighbourhoods. FedEx is testing its own delivery rover in partnership with Pizza Hut, Walmart, Target and Walgreens.
Ford has shown off a gangly two-legged robot to carry items to homes.
(With AP inputs)