(Image courtesy of Starship Technologies)
With the burgeoning developments in robotics, the possibilities are penetrating just about every industry, from healthcare to security, making it only natural that robots eventually find their way to food. This inevitable future has now become reality because as of tomorrow a fleet of robots will begin delivering food directly to Californian doors, marking a moment in food delivery history.
DoorDash, a nationwide food delivery service in the US, launch the bots tomorrow without any impact to their existing human workforce. Humans will remain the predominant courier as they welcome their new colleagues on wheels to take over the shorter more tedious deliveries.
The fleet will work in Redwood, California for now (an area suitably situated in Silicon Valley), after weeks of testing their ability to mount pavements and avoid obstacles - the bots are well equipped to handle the work load.
The robots, designed by Starship Technolgies, are about the size of a medium-sized dog resembling a large ice cooler or small fridge, with 6 wheels and weighing just under 20kg. They stay at a walking pace, and for now will be accompanied by 'handlers' who need to monitor their progress and performance.
The robots will travel to the restaurant where they will get stocked with a delivery, and then they will use GPS to navigate themselves to the delivery address, doing this an estimated 10 times per day each. The question is: will they be tipped?
For now because they are accompanied, the issue of theft won't really be tested, but it will be interesting to see how it would play out without a handler present. Aside from the threat of theft, the entire concept poses a future threat to the delivery job industry, as these food delivery robots provide evidence of just how close we are to robots taking over an entire human workforce.
With food delivery services like Uber Eats, Order In and Mr Delivery still at their infancy in terms of expansion and new developments, South Africa has a long way to go before the industry welcomes robots.
With the current state of unemployment, we cannot see a such a concept fitting into the country's industry landscape. However, judging by Starship Techologies' business model, courier robots are most certainly the future, and if there's anything we've learned from technological advancements, there's pretty much no stopping them.
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