Imagine you’re at home and suddenly realise you’re missing a key ingredient for dinner, this is a disaster.
Now rather than having to run/drive to the shops you simply open an app on your phone, order the items you need and then 15mins later you get a notification saying your groceries are outside.
You’ll then go to the front door and what you’ll see is a plucky little six-wheeled robot.
Developed by London-based robotics company Starship technologies, this small robot might not be solving everyone’s shopping needs right now, but as of this week it has taken a major step forward.
The company has announced that it has now left the testing stage and is providing delivery services to a number of companies around the world, including here in the UK.
Initially the testing took place in East London and was run through the Just Eat app. Users were able to order takeaway from compatible restaurants and the delivery robot would bring it to your front door.
The test was a success and indeed is still running, however in addition the company has started rolling out a number of other projects across the UK and around the world.
Mercedes Benz now uses the delivery robots to send essential parcels around its offices in Germany, while financial company Intuit has started using them for food and drink deliveries across its 4.3 acre California campus.
The whole process takes around 17 minutes and for Intuit’s employees the most popular request has been for breakfast rolls.
Here in the UK the company has launched another delivery partnership, this time with Co-op in Monkston in Milton Keynes.
Using the Starship Technologies app anyone within 1-2 miles of the store can order up to 3 full bags of grocery shopping.
The robot then delivers the groceries straight to your door.
How does it work?
Each robot has both 3G and GPS built-in which helps it travel safely around while an array of cameras and sensors will make sure it won’t become the new nemesis of cyclists.
To protect against thieves the robots are locked during delivery and can then only be opened by the customer via the smartphone app.
If someone does try to steal the drone then cameras located on its body can take pictures of the thief. If it gets in trouble every drone can be remotely controlled by a central operator.
When can I have my shopping delivered by a robot?
While it’s clear that East London and Milton Keynes is hardly ‘everywhere’, the team at Starship are confident that now their robots have entered service the scale of robot deliveries will grow quite quickly.
In fact the company has the ambitious target of being able to deliver to any UK home within just five years.
While ambitious, this doesn’t take into account all the factors that have to be considered when you start putting fleets of robots onto the pavement.
For starters each local council will need to approve their use, and it’s still not clear whether or not large numbers of companies are on board with them as a delivery alternative.
For now though, if you happen to live in Milton Keynes and fancy having your shopping delivered there’s every chance that it could be delivered by a robot.