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Sidewalk delivery robots.

The problem is a lot easier that driverless cars (everything is slower and a remote human can take over in hard places) and huge potential to shake up the short-to-medium distance delivery business. It's the sort of tech that could quickly explode into 100s of cities worldwide like escooters did a couple of years ago.

Starship Technologies is the best known company in the area and furthest advanced. https://www.starship.xyz/






Yesterday, while driving in downtown Mountain View, CA, one of these damn things stopped short of coming into the crosswalk. So I and the opposite direction person stopped, like we would if it were a person.

The damn thing made us wait for what felt like an eternity. And it still didn't move. So I started to roll forward and I swear to you, I was almost hoping I would hear the crunch of electronics if the thing had decided to roll forward given I had given up on it.

A year ago I was in a Bevmo trying to get beer and an inventory robot was in the isle. The thing was bulky (morbidly obese?) and I couldn't get by it as it was rolling slowly up the isle taking pictures on both sides, so I went down the parallel isle hoping to get infront of it to get to my beer. Nope, the thing got there first and blocked me.

Robots are our future. And it will be annoying during our lifetime. There was a reason Han Solo snapped at C3PO to shut up. I don't know what Han has had to deal with in his lifetime, but I can take some guess now on where his "shoot first" mentality came from.


We've been ordering through them once every couple weeks during the pandemic. It's really cool. Even though the robot itself is really slow (takes a good 40 mins for a 1 mile journey), they're usually pretty available and responsive, and so we'd get things faster than human-based platforms (who has to be available, then go to the pick up point, then deliver).

It seems like if they get popular they're going to run into problems with sidewalk availability. We're already using them for walking. You can add a few robots and not have any blowback, but once the novelty wears off, having to navigate around slowpoke robots on your walk is going to get old.

Cities are not immutable objects. It's going to be extremely contentious, because all local politics is, but it's not infeasible to alter our cities.

Seen a bunch of these doing deliveries within Milton Keynes.



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