The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many states to issue “stay at home” orders. People still need to eat. Many are placing food orders at local restaurants who send a driver out with their food. This could potentially put those drivers at risk of catching the virus.
Robots, however, face no such risk. A company called Starship has created small, self-driving, robots that have been making food deliveries for over two years.
Starship robots are self advanced devices that can carry items within a 4-mile (6km) radius. Our delivery platform enables a new era of instant delivery that works around your schedule at much lower costs.
Parcels, groceries, and food are directly delivered from stores, at the time that the customer requests via a mobile app. Once ordered the robots’ entire journey and location can be monitored on a smartphone.
According to Reuters, Starship robots in England have been delivering for free to the National Health Service (NHS) staff and facing increased demand from the general public. Starship Robots made their 50,000th delivery in Milton Keynes on April 15, 2020.
Ars Technica has a detailed article about Starship’s robots making deliveries in Farifax City, Virginia. Timothy B. Lee used the Starship app, placed an order, and then set out to find the robot. He decided to jump in front of it, to see what would happen. The robot simply stopped before it hit him.
Starship points out that the cargo bay on the robot is mechanically locked throughout the journey and can be opened by the recipient with their smartphone app. In other words, there is no reason to worry that someone else will be able to grab your delivery order before the robot finds your home. The company says their entire delivery platform is energy efficient and cost efficient, and can deliver groceries, packages, and food, at a fraction of the cost.
The robots are cute, too! They look like a small cooler on wheels, rolling across the sidewalk, on six fat wheels. It even has a little flagpole, with a colorful flag, so people will notice it.
Personally, I think these robots are useful. They can potentially keep restaurants in business as they make food for people who are stuck at home. Let the robot take the food to someone’s door, instead of a human that may be worried about the risk of encountering someone who has COVID-19. The only potential problem I see is if human delivery drivers end up replaced by self-driving delivery robots.