An interesting idea from Italian scooter company, Piaggio: Gita, a robot that follows you around (and learns the route).
This looks cool, and might actually be a real advance for urban movement. Self propelled luggage, with enough capacity to be useful, and enough ooph to keep up with a bicycle as well as a walker. I like the idea.
Evan Ackerman reports that this design is sort of an intermediate step on the way to fully automated delivery systems.
“Rather than try to develop a fully autonomous delivery robot from scratch, PFF is instead starting with something simpler: A pleasingly roundish robot called Gita (“gee-tah”) that will follow you around, carrying 19 kilograms of tools, groceries, or whatever you want.”
“But PFF also wants Gita to eventually be able to navigate completely by itself, even if the user isn’t nearby”
The current design eschews lidar (which has advantages, but is very expensive to date), in favor of stereo vision. But they do a clever thing: “rather than doing person-tracking, it’s actually comparing its SLAM picture with SLAM that the user is doing, thanks to a stereoscopic camera on the user’s belt”. Basically, the user is teaching his or her luggage to navigate the human world.
The thing that immediately struck me when I saw this is that the utilitarian, round shape is just wrong. Sure, this is practical and sensible, but c’mon. We’ve got to soup them up!
First of all, they simply have to come in different colors (duh!). Second, I strongly recommend the company encourage customization, including hand painted decorations, decal kits (e.g., flames, team logos), and even plastic and foam 3D decorations (Fins! Shark’s teeth! Ray gun pods!).
Third, there should be (unsanctioned) modifications to hot rod them. 35 KMH? Not good enough!
For that matter, there should be rodeos and shows, with trick jumps (I’m seeing flaming hoops), motocross, ski races, etc. For these Gita-X Games, it would be cool to be able to stream out the video, a la drone racing, no?
Finally, I would like to see this behavior is a totally different body. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a mechanical velociraptor follow you around like this?
(I’m also seeing my Gita lower a ramp, and let loose a swarm of little mini-Gitas….)
- Evan Ackerman, Piaggio’s Cargo Robot Uses Visual SLAM to Follow You Anywhere, in IEEE Spectrum – Automation. 2017. http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/piaggio-cargo-robot