The Italian company better known for making iconic scooters is branching out into robotics. Piaggio, which make Vespa, is developing Gita, a spherical ‘cargo robot’ that will carry your shopping for you and follow in your footsteps.
Resembling an exercise ball with tyre tracks, Gita (pronounced ‘jee-ta’, which is Italian for ‘short trip’) is two feet tall and can carry 40 pounds (about 18 kilograms or five shopping bags full) of supplies. It can also travel at speeds of up to 22 miles per hour (mph), so can easily keep up with you if you’re cycling home.
Intended to manoeuvre even the busiest city streets, the spherical Gita can turn on the spot as well as use sensors to avoid obstacles. The manufacturer also says it will have an eight-hour battery life.
Rather than using facial recognition or body tracking to auto-follow you like some drones, the Gita tracks a special white belt with built-in camera that you have to wear. While following you, Gita develops a 3D map of the surroundings, so that it can repeat the journey on its own.
The robot also has its own cameras and an ultrasonic range-finding system to help it avoid obstacles, including other pedestrians. This means Gita could also be used to make deliveries across town on its own. To keep your precious cargo safe, Gita requires you to scan your fingerprints and enter a code to either open its lid or even start moving.
There is no word on a consumer launch date or a price yet, but the robot will be test-piloted by a Boston-based spin-off of the company called Piaggio Fast Forward later this year, with Gita working in businesses and on university campuses around the US.
A Taste of the Future
Gita is not the first autonomous delivery drone. The rather grandly titled Starship Technologies is currently testing its own six-wheeled robots in 56 cities worldwide. In the UK, this is in a partnership with online takeaway service Just Eat to transport pizzas, curries and more across the capital. After being tested in Greenwich, the droids are slowly being rolled out across London. These robots can carry 10kg and have a max speed of 4mph. When the robot arrives, the customer receives a notification with a code that unlocks the robot’s lid.
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