Sci-fi movies and books are filled with fascinating tales of robots and how they’re able to tackle everything humans can and more. Now, many of the robot-related feats associated with fictional media are coming to pass in real life. Keep reading to learn about several robots that have been specially engineered to improve life for human users.
Piaggio Fast Forward, the manufacturer of Vespa motorbikes, has recently developed a robot named Gita. It looks like a blue ball with two bicycle wheels, and is made to serve as a personal cargo carrier. Boasting a top speed of 22 mph, Gita can follow a human operator or move autonomously through a mapped area. The robot holds up to 40 pounds inside of a compartment that includes a lockable lid.
Thanks to built-in obstacle-avoidance technology, Gita goes to the destination without bumping into things or people on the way. If you don’t want to lug your backpack around a sprawling college campus or would prefer to walk home from a shopping trip without being loaded down with bags, Gita can help.
Ocado, the largest exclusively online supermarket in the world, has been testing robots to pick items from its warehouses and pack them carefully so they’re ready for customer delivery. The experimentation has been done through the SoMa project, a collaborative effort between several European organizations.
Not surprisingly, some of the groceries handled by Ocado’s robots have irregular shapes or sizes. They also might feature slick surfaces, especially if the items are fruits or vegetables. To compensate for this ongoing challenge, the robots have grippers with springs that handle more than 48,000 items in Ocado’s inventory.
Also, the grippers are capable of picking up breakable items without possessing detailed insight about an object’s shape. Each gripper is made from flexible rubber and uses controlled air pressure to move the fingers, thumb and palm of the robotic hand.
The fact that these robots can pick up things so precisely is impressive, and it relates to technology that has allowed technicians to defuse explosive devices with help from remote control vehicles (RCVs). Devices like RCVs, which have been used for 50 years, facilitate bomb experts being able to work on explosive devices from safe distances.
The RCVs usually have extendable arms. They make it possible for the robots to move items away from an explosive device or even pick it up and move it to a safer place for technicians to examine.
In the months to come, researchers that are part of the SoMa project will continue to push the limits of the item-picking robots and see how much they can do. Depending on the results of the ongoing work, we may soon see major differences in methods of operation at warehouses around the world.
Starship Technologies, a London-based company established by Skype’s co-founders, aims to use robots to change your perceptions of local deliveries. Nicknamed Carry, the robots can transport cargo that weighs as much as two grocery bags and complete deliveries to customers in as little as five minutes. Company representatives say the robots can get jobs done for 10 to 15 times less than the cost of current last-mile delivery alternatives. They stay on the ground and travel at speeds up to 4 mph.
Like Gita, these robots have obstacle-avoidance technology, making them suitable for traveling in pedestrian-heavy areas. The robots move autonomously most of the time, but humans oversee their movements and can intervene if necessary. Customers choose their desired delivery slots, and then can track the robot’s movements through a corresponding app. Once a Carry robot reaches its destination, only the customer can unlock the cargo compartment and access what’s inside.
Whether they handle your shopping bags, pick out the groceries you’ve ordered online or deliver a pizza to your doorstep, you may soon start seeing these robots in your communities instead of just reading about them in news headlines.