Hanging on the wall of Postmates' stealth R&D laboratory, there's a framed photo of an iconic scene from Star Wars, Luke Skywalker bent down beside R2D2. Except someone has used Photoshop to replace Luke's face with Ali Kashani, Postmates' VP of Robotics. Nevermind that Kashani has never seen Star Wars (he considers this a point of pride). Kashani recognizes the symbolism of his face in a world where robots roll around next to people, where bots act almost like friends. Kashani joined Postmates a year and a half ago, with a special mission to bring robots to the company.
Your next Starbucks latte might be delivered by an adorable roving robot. Postmates, the food and grocery delivery company, has debuted its new autonomous delivery robot, named'Serve.' The four-wheeled rover closely resembles a brightly colored cooler, except it has huge, saucer-shaped eyes and an array of cameras meant to help it navigate the streets. Your next latte might be delivered by an adorable roving robot. Postmates, the food and grocery delivery company, has debuted its new autonomous delivery robot, named'Serve' Postmates is a food and grocery delivery service that brings items to your doorstep.
A remote Phantom Auto operator monitors a Postmates delivery robot. The 2020s may yet be the decade of self-driving cars, but early predictions from automakers and tech developers including Tesla, Nissan, Nvidia and Ford that autonomous vehicles would be ready as soon as this year or next don't seem to be panning out. This week auto supply giant Magna ended a tech alliance with Lyft on self-driving robo-taxis owing to a slower-than-anticipated timetable. But the billions of dollars that have been poured into R&D and development of advanced sensors and computing the past few years are being leveraged for near-term applications, including delivery robots and self-driving trucks, as well as autonomous warehouse, cleaning and security bots. And as those vehicles proliferate, there's an increasing need to keep track of them, monitor their operations, provide remote guidance in some cases or even, in very limited circumstances, drive them remotely.
Amazon is rolling out self-driving delivery robots. The internet giant announced Wednesday that six'Scout' robots will deliver packages to customers in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington. Each Scout robot is a squat, bright blue device that gets around on six wheels. The battery-powered devices about the size of a small cooler and can deliver packages autonomously. And city or suburban dwellers don't have to worry about Scout running them over on the street, as Amazon says the robots'roll along sidewalks at a walking pace.'
Delivery robots incorporating AI are on the march, being deployed more widely on the ground, sometimes crowding sidewalks. Delivery robot providers include Starship Technologies, a startup created by Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla, founders of Skype. The company offers a general-purpose home delivery robot that today is an array of cameras and GPS sensors, but in the future will include microphones, speaker, and the ability via AI-driven natural language processing, to talk to customers. Since 2016, Starship has carried out 50,000 delivers in over 100 cities across 20 countries, according to an account in SingularityHub written by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, the founder of Singularity University and the founder and executive chairman of the XPrize Foundation. Another startup delivery provider is Nuro, co-founded by Jiajun Zhu, an engineer who helped develop Google's self-driving car.