There is an explosion of cargo robots throughout Europe. According to a recent iReviews article, carriers like the Starship delivery bot have encountered over 2.8 million people, covered 14,500 miles, and have completed hundreds of trips in England, Germany, and Switzerland. With a focus on revolutionizing urban transportation, Piaggio – the Italian company that brought us the Vespa scooter – has unveiled its cargo robot named Gita.
With a top speed of 22 mph and capable of carrying up to 40 lbs, Gita is designed to “augment jobs that require a lot of equipment, like maintenance or gardening,” the company told TechCrunch. Gita, according to Piaggio’s robotics division, “has the same braking, balancing and vehicle dynamics that you would expect of a high-performance motorcycle.” It’s tough to miss Gita – a bright blue orb standing 26” tall usually following alongside its owner and looking right out of a Sci-Fi movie.
Starship Delivery Bot
Unlike the Starship delivery bot, primarily being used for delivering foodstuffs and limited to a three-mile radius, Gita is designed “to go wherever a person in a wheelchair can go – including ADA-compliant ramps, elevators, and grocery store aisles.” The Starship stays within the city and uses nine cameras paired with GPS to create a 360-degree, three-dimensional map of the surrounding environment. Gita, on the other hand, is an indoor/outdoor cargo ‘Bot with a zero turning radius that helps people get around airports, campus buildings, parking lots, and resorts. Because Gita uses a navigational database beyond Google Maps, the more she explores – the more she understands destination points.
Piaggio Fast Forward
Setting up shop in Boston and branding its robotics division, “Piaggio Fast Forward,” the Vespa creator hopes to solve city congestion by way of futuristic personal delivery devices. Gita, capable of running for about eight hours straight, has multiple cameras embedded in its blue carbon fiber shell and can keep up with her owner while riding a bike or traveling on foot. “We wanted to extend people’s movement and encourage them to move more freely and easily, even in congested environments,” Chief Creative Officer Greg Lynn told TechCrunch. “Everything we do is lightweight and made for highly congested cities, like Bangkok or Hanoi, where traffic is a real problem.”
Semi-Autonomous Cargo Robot
Even though Gita is a semi-autonomous cargo robot, there are significant advantages of having a human keep up with her rolling bot. Citing that humans have the quick-decision capability of avoiding hitting a cyclist or swerve out of the way of a dog, Piaggio Fast Forward’s Chief Operating Officer Sasha Hoffman said, “If a device is following a person then that person has the lead, and powers the most important decision around the robot’s movement.” In other words, Gita is capable of carrying cargo without a human chaperone, but it might be best to stick with the ‘Bot until the navigational technology works itself out.
Armed with a locking bay that requires a fingerprint scan and a personalized code, users can safely park Gita without the concern of theft. With plans to test pilot Gita throughout college campuses in the U.S. over the next six months, it’s safe to say that semi-autonomous cargo robots may be here to stay. It will certainly revolutionize the way we travel.