Why Keep Autonomous Delivery Bots On The Ground?

Recently, there have been some interesting tech developments that could mean drone delivery is well on its way for use in just a few years. An MIT researcher has built a drone that autonomously recognizes and dodges obstacles while traveling at speeds up to 30mph.

This new drone costs well under $2000 to build and uses conventional components. It could be a tidy solution to the problem of safely and efficiently navigating drones in wooded and urban areas as they fly to complete a delivery. Google, now called Alphabet Inc, has announced new plans to gets its own consumer drone delivery service off the ground and running by 2017, pending talks with the FAA and the development of a drone traffic control system.

googledrone1Image Source: http://www.reuters.com

Delivery Robots On The Sidewalk
While it appears as though we could start receiving packages regularly delivered by drones in the very near future, it may not hurt to consider what’s possible if we keep autonomous delivery technology grounded. That’s the approach of Starship Technologies, a company launched by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Jaus Friis. They have developed a small, six wheeled robot called Starship. Starship has been designed to autonomously deliver cargo to a destination while navigating the same sidewalks and pathways used by humans.

Slow, Steady, And Local
Starship can travel as fast as 4mph and can carry about twenty pounds in it’s app-controlled lockable compartment. The robot may not be ideal for delivering products ordered from the web, but it could save you a trip to your local market. Starship has been proposed as a type of grocery delivery system that will take goods from a nearby warehouse and carry them to customers within a few miles.

strship2Image Source:  http://mashable.com

Better On the Ground Than In The Air?
While this form of autonomous delivery will likely face its own set of real world obstacles, as well as security, operational, and legal concerns, it could get a leg up on the far more complex process of using drones to safely deliver a package through the air as Amazon and Google are striving to do.

Ground delivery may not be direct competition for drones delivering goods from more than just a few miles away, but it’s affordability and manageability make it an appealing addition to autonomous delivery options for customers and businesses alike.

Article Sources:
http://www.popsci.com
http://www.popsci.com
http://www.reuters.com
http://mashable.com

Lisa Myers
 

Is a blogger with an interest for all things mechanical. She is a full-time mom with three active boys, who loves encouraging them to explore the world of science and engineering. They spend a lot of time together playing with Legos.

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