Delivery Robot coming to a doorstep near you

Us humans are an impatient bunch, we want things to be quicker, more efficient and slot in around our busy lives. If you order something online we want it delivered yesterday, unless it’s food then we want it immediately and hot, not lukewarm, not stone cold but scald the roof of your mouth piping hot.

The latest on the streets is the delivery robot, this isn’t exactly new but is being trialled by large company’s. Don’t be alarmed if a robot turns up on your doorstep delivering your online shopping or takeaway. How else will companies be able to keep up with the demands of their consumers without costing them extra money in man power?

Just Eat teamed up with Starship Technologies to trial these robots in London using them in place of takeaway delivery drivers. These little bots can travel at 4 mph for 10 miles, uses GPS and cameras to get around so in theory they won’t get lost or need to ask for directions.

More recently, also working with Starship Technologies was Tesco who trialled this very robot which can hold up to 3 shopping bags and will still work in 20cm of snow. Considering how our public transport grinds to a halt at the hint of a snowflake that is impressive.

Don’t worry about potential thief’s.. ‘Earlier tests found people who tried to break in by jumping on it ended up with it trapped on their leg’, that’s one way to stop a chancer. Customers can access their shopping by typing in a pin and voila access to your shopping.

Future of delivery jobs

This can be a cause for concern for some delivery driver if these mini bundles of circuitry takes off. There will be companies who will find monetary value in using robots for small deliveries, they can only carry up 10 kg or three shopping bags and cheaper to employ.

‘…is cheaper than the average human delivery, costing £1 to transport within a 3 mile radius, compared with the £3 to £6 it costs for a human courier’

There is also the lack of human contact. We do like to complain especially if we can get ventingsomething out of it, that won’t happen with a delivery bot. These robots will remove that human element of being able to complain to the delivery driver when your delivery is late, items are missing or your food is cold! Where is the satisfaction in that?
Off to customer service you go to vent, until to you discover the person on the other end of the phone has been replaced with a chatbot!

Lets look at the pros and cons before we decide to vilify the deliver bot ;

Pros

  •  They are efficient, the aim of Start Technologies is to have about 100 robots that would need one person to step in and take over if they needed to
  • Can make short distance deliveries
  • They are secure
  • Won’t get stuck in traffic

Cons

  •  No more friendly delivery driver until you yell at them then they are no longer your friend
  • Loss of jobs
  • What happens if they break down on route, malfunction or get lost?

 

So, what do think, fancy a relative of R2D2 turning up on your doorstep?

Is Artificial Intelligence something to be afraid of?

I wrote this post Artificial Intelligence in a human world not too long ago, talking about my own concerns about AI despite all the good that AI is reportedly already doing and hoping to achieve in the future.

 Have I changed my mind and now have both feet in the AI camp?

In short no.
It’s not because I fear technology at the moment I don’t feel comfortable with the thought of putting my complete trust and giving control over to a machine That is just my viewpoint but I also don’t think there is any need to be scaring the public into thinking that in a few years time their jobs could be taken over by a robot. Or that it’s already difficult enough for graduates to find suitable employment but now they could find themselves also competing against a machine. Of course not, but news reports can’t help themselves with a bit of scaremongering keeps readers on their toes.

AI doesn’t have to be this big scary monster that is coming to take over the world, it is about us adapting to a different way of life, isn’t moving forward about evolving and trying to improve the way we currently live?

When talking about AI I liked how this article from Venturebeat.com; 3 types of artificial intelligence, but only 2 are valid  broke down AI into three categories with simple explanations.

Transformative AI; The kind of AI that will “take over the world” — or at least have the most dramatic effect on how people live and work. Think driverless cars
DIY (Do It Yourself) AI; is any artificial intelligence platform whose end goal is to make you, the user, more informed so that you can then do the remaining work yourself.
Faux AI; They look and act like AI agents, but they are not really using machine learning. They are pretenders.

From my own perspective AI is still in its developing, there is a lot of testing, trial and error going on. Yes there are driverless cars in development but we won’t been seeing them as the norm for a while, then we have police robots despite the name they don’t have the same function as a police officer.

Medical

Regardless of how far technology advances there will always be a human in the background or working alongside the technology in question. A California based company have created a health scanning machine that uses AI to detect any ailments a person may have. This device will work alongside doctors who can then discuss your health using the visual scan, it will contain your medical history. This isn’t a way for doctors to get out of reading their patients notes but an easier way for them to keep track of their patients medical health.

The exoskeleton suit or wearable robot giving hope back to paralysed people enabling some to walk.

This suit can also help elderly people predicting when they are going to fall, no it doesn’t have a crystal ball. Quote below from Silvestro Micera, the lead author of the research by École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne explaining the suit.

“This device is able to understand whether there is a change in locomotion behaviour – in particular at the onset of falling,”

Think about the positive effect smart technology can have in people’s lives, it can give some people back their independence.

Customer Service

Chatbots you phone customer service or IT support and you’ll speak to a chatbot first and if they can’t help us will then be passed onto a person, this type of service is already in place with some companies. The idea is to save time making people more efficient at their job and focusing on the important aspects of it.

Chatbots a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.

Autism

I’ve mentioned in my previous AI post about the robot Zeno, this type of advancement is close to my heart having a brother who was only diagnosed with Asperger’s at 21. Anything that will help those with autism is something I will always advocate. From my own experience and knowledge of it, depending on where the person is on the spectrum things are in black and white, a logical approach is adopted much like those of machines. They are programmed with possible logical options, for humans that is like our emotions and how we interact socially, skills we learn when we are young. Skills that aren’t so easy for people with autism, my brother doesn’t always understand how sarcasm works but I can assure you he is getting better at dishing it out these days!

Law enforcement

Law enforcement is also getting in on the action with a robot police officer making an appearance at shopping centre’ in Dubai. Don’t worry if you’re young enough to remember it’s not the Robocop you’re thinking from the 80’s it doesn’t have the power to arrest, it is more a walking, talking information board.

‘People will be able to use it to report crimes, pay fines and get information by tapping a touchscreen on its chest.’

Part of me is still concerned about how dependent we could become on technology and the influence artificial intelligence could have. Just look at how the NHS Cyber attack affected health trusts including the one I work for. Everything came to a stand still, worry that patient medical information could be compromised, no functioning email for a period of time, we had to resort to going old school and picking up the phone to speak to people.  Then there was the worry of a second attack and measure taken to make sure the NHS IT network wasn’t vulnerable. So you can understand why I feel a bit sceptical about but my complete trust in technology because things can go wrong. Saying all this there is the other part of me that just from these handful of examples can see the benefits of AI. Imagine how many children could have benefitted from a robot like Zeno in the past and how a police robot with the right programming could help with the shortage of police officers on the street.

Driverless cars I am still on the fence, I haven’t even managed to move away from a manual drive car to automatic one let alone consider a driverless car. Who knows over time and once the bugs have been ironed out I may change my mind.