On Tuesday, a new robotic delivery device completed its maiden voyage of a pastry delivery to a woman in the Richmond District.
Yes, you read that right. It was a demonstration by Starship Technologies of the first ever “autonomous delivery robot”. The company is visiting San Francisco to consider the city for initial US trials of the delivery robots.
The demo consisted of an Orson’s Belly Cafe employee packing a box of pastries into the robot, which is a small, 40 lb wheeled device with a locking top that is about the size of a cooler.
It then took off – at just 4 miles per hour – and headed around the corner to the 20th Avenue home of Richmond District resident Julie O’Keefe who unlocked the device and removed her delivery. Mission accomplished.
The delivery robot uses nine cameras, GPS, software, and maps accurate to the nearest inch to navigate to its destination and back again. The goal is for the robots to be used for local deliveries within a 2 mile radius.
“Parcels and groceries are directly delivered from stores or specialised hubs, at the time that the client requests via a mobile app. It takes 5 to 30 minutes for the shipment to arrive and the robots’ entire journey can be monitored on a smartphone,” says the company.
According to the Chronicle, Starship plans to have 100 robots per human operator and to rent them out to other businesses on demand. To start, each delivery might cost a few dollars, but eventually the cost could be pennies per delivery.
Julie O’Keefe, the recipient of Monday’s futuristic test, was selected randomly by a Starship Technologies representative who went knocking on doors to ask for volunteers. The closest store to her was Orson’s Belly, a cafe that opened this year at 1737 Balboa near 19th Avenue, so the demo started there. No word on whether O’Keefe tipped the robot for its successful mission.
So what say you, Richmond District? Are you ready for robot deliveries?