Greenwich, London residents have officially begun receiving deliveries from autonomous, six-wheeled rolling cooler bots, which are handling the “last mile” of food delivery from nearby takeout restaurants.
(Autonomous robotic food delivery)
Before you ask, these bots are designed to be tamper-proof, so passers-by won’t just smell your delicious delivery curry and crack one open to score an unpaid meal. Also, in case you wanted to request one for selfie opportunities, you’re out of luck – they’re assigned at random, and not available via specific request while ordering from Just Eat even if you happen to live in their Greenwich operating area.
When I previously spoke to Starship Technologies, the startup co-founded by Skype vets Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis that’s providing the bots for this delivery service, the company told me part of its testing was about finding out how humans would react to seeing the bots rolling down their sidewalks. Seems like in Greenwich, at least, they’ve been pleased with the results – the plan is to continue expanding the number of these terrestrial drones in service in the area, with other parts of London getting their own robots next year.
Fans of sf writer Bruce Sterling recall the dope mule robot, that also delivered goods to a GPS-identified location.
Then she saw it too. A bouncing machine. Something very much like a camouflage-painted kangaroo.
It was crossing the hills with vast, unerring, twenty-meter leaps. A squat metal sphere, painted in ragged patches of dun and olive drab. It had a single thick, pistoning, metal leg.
The bounding robot whipped that single metal leg around with dreadful unerring precision, like some nightmare one-legged pirate. It whacked its complex metal foot against the earth like a hustler's cue whacking a pool ball, and it bounded off instantly, hard. The thing spent most of its time airborne, a splotchy cannonball spinning on its axis and kicking like a flea against the Texan earth. It was doing a good eighty klicks an hour. As it got closer she saw that its underside was studded with grilled sensors.
It gave a final leap and, God help her, a deft little somersault, and it landed on the earth with a brief hiss of sucked-up impact. Instantly, a skinny little gunmetal tripod flicked Out from beneath it, like a triple set of hinged switchblades.