The Pandemic Is Bringing Us Closer To Our Robot Takeout Future

from ars technica

On the morning of March 30, I set out from my home in Washington, DC, to the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. In only a few hours, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam would issue coordinated stay-at-home orders. But I was going to GMU’s campus to check out a new technology seemingly tailor-made for the moment—technology that could help people get food without the risks of face-to-face interactions.

Campus was eerily quiet; most students and staff had long been sent home. But as I approached a Starbucks at the northern edge of GMU, I heard a faint buzzing and saw a six-wheeled, microwave-sized robot zip along the sidewalk, turn, and park in front of the coffee shop. The robot looked like—and essentially was—a large white cooler on wheels. It was a delivery robot from Starship, a startup that has been operating on campus since early last year.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, small sidewalk robots like this seemed to be slowly gaining traction here and at large. Generally, these bots are light and slow-moving enough that they’re unlikely to hurt anyone. That has allowed companies to start using them in real-world applications, with minimal supervision, at a time when larger autonomous vehicles designed for road use still seem far from mainstream commercial use.

These days, of course, coronavirus lockdowns have created a surge in demand for food deliveries. In recent weeks, I’ve talked to executives from two different sidewalk robot companies, Starship and Kiwibot. Both say they’re scrambling to build new robots and roll out service to new areas in the face of unprecedented interest.

Robot deliveries remain rare enough that it’s easy to dismiss them as curiosities. But that’s a mistake. The technology works now. Starship already has hundreds of robots in service delivering food to real customers. Spurred by demand from locked-down customers, that number could soon soar to the thousands and eventually into the millions. With lower costs and no need to tip, robots could make takeout more popular than ever as it gradually displaces human-driven food deliveries.

Sidewalk robots won’t eliminate human-driven food delivery entirely. We’ll need bigger, faster robots that travel in the street to reach customers in many suburban and rural areas. But Starship’s rapid growth is a sign of what’s to come. In a decade or two, having a human being bring you food could seem as anachronistic as paying for long-distance phone calls.

And right now, certainly, there’s clear appeal to less human-involved food delivery.

More here.

Posted in Future Thinking and tagged , , , , .

17 Comments

  1. In the midst of the Coronavirus take-out and delivery has been booming, as everyone still wants to enjoy the fast food and drinks they love while still staying inside and practicing social distancing, I can say over the last month I have had a lot of delivery and take out so when I saw “robot takeout future” I was interested as I haven’t noticed to much robotics when it comes to my takeout, but as I read I was surprised to see that at George Mason University there is a start up company called “Starship” that has been operating there over the last year that offers a delivery service that uses small mobile robots that will go to the location and pick up an item and then deliver it, the Robot has been seen parked outside of Starbucks waiting for a worker to bring out the drinks, this was very interesting to me as I didnt think anything like that actually existed yet, but in the midst of coronavirus these robot delivery service have gotten very popular as it takes away any face to face contact that usually would occur in a pick up or drop off. I figured this would be pretty costly for the consumer but it turns out Starship charges the same rates as other delivery services like Doordash and Uber eats, I can see this robotic service really taking off on college campuses like it has at George Mason University , and in urban areas like cities. One day I can see tons of these mouse droid looking things rolling all over New York city delivering cups of coffee and take out. One area I also could see being an issue that companies like Starship may run into is delivery times as these robots dont move very fast and needs to keep a slow speed in order to keep pedestrians safe, but this could effect how fast the robot delivers something. Another automated delivery service is Nuro that has self driving street vehicles that deliver food and groceries, I can see self driving delivery vehicles becoming more common as in the long run these services will save alot of money as companies will not have to hire drivers. I feel one day even all Ubers and Lyfts will be self driving as companies will realize how much money it can save when it doesn’t have too employee drivers.

  2. With the need to lessen human interactions, delivery robots could easily become more and more popular. This technology was already in development and being implemented in multiple areas, and shows much promise. The only resturants operating right now are those that have take-out and especially delivery options. The pizzeria I work at closed down theire dining room, and is taking only orders to go. Working a delivery shift, I have never seen that store so busy with deliveries, the drivers and I could barely keep up with the amount of orders coming out of the kitchen. I can imagine that at many establishments, it is very similar if not worse. And the amount of deliveries that demand a “no contact” delivery is about half, which means leaving food at a doorstep for a customer to receive. With implementation of this technology, bots could be used to fill gaps when delivery drivers are all out, allowing companies to make more deliveries and not have to pay for more workers. These bots also completely remove the issue of a “no contact” delivery, customers can approach the bot and take their safely secured food without risking their quarantine. Tech like this is much more practical than other autonomous vehicles, as these are so small and cheap they are unlikely to cause harm to anyone or anything. And the bots are a working development. With many areas worried about how to continue supporting their citizens, this technology could easily be outsourced to help deal with food delivery. There are already 1000 of these bots being used to deliver food to customers, and the numbers continue to grow. This type of drone delivery is much more practical than things like air-drone delivery, which sparks its own controversy and are complex to operate and maintain. Many innovative technologies and advancements are seeing rapid growth due to this pandemic. With many people looking to alternate options for work, food, and many other services that doesn’t require human interaction, the digital space the direction many are taking.

  3. I will admit that upon first watching the video about the robots delivering food, I laughed. The robots were somewhat cute looking, reminding me of something I would see in the movie WALL-E, with a round shape and three little wheels. The video was trying to show how these robots get around and most importantly, how they cross streets without getting hit by cars or running into other people. The little cooler-shaped robot patiently waits at crosswalks, able to detect the signals and move accordingly. After my initial reaction upon seeing this video, I do believe it will eventually become a normal thing to see in areas where this is possible. It seems like it is having a lot of success in the city that is currently using it with people taking advantage of the delivery options for both groceries and takeout. This service was set up quickly in this time of need and it makes sense why: it offers a contact-free delivery service. Right now, everyone at least should be trying to avoid contact with others as much as possible and this delivery robot is a near-perfect solution. However, I do wonder what impacts this could have on the economy and those who might rely on food delivery as a means to make money. The increase of technology in the country has certainly had an impact on the demographic of the world’s working population with a transition away from these unskilled jobs to more high-tech jobs that require much more skills and a higher education that not everyone can afford to have. With the current circumstances, I think that this will have both positive and negative impacts in that it will hopefully keep the virus from spreading by limiting human to human contact, but also take away jobs from people who need them the most right now.

  4. This article has to do a lot with looking at the disruptiveness to our current society that things like robots are going to have in the future and also now. In this case, this article is bringing to light new advancements in the area of robots bringing people their food away from the restaurant to their home or dorm room on campus. This is something that our parents were seeing in movies when they were kids as to how crazy and advanced the future would be, but it seems like that childhood memory is becoming a reality. Companies that were already previously developing things like that have even more an incentive to accelerate their work and timelines to roll something out as soon as possible. There is not better opportunity to advertise their robots than in a time where being are weary of human reaction until the pandemic cools down. People will flock to supporting this more than ever before right now because the need for this technology is here now and people want to be satisfied now. Although mass scale of this will not be happening for a while still, it is still the perfect time for these companies to advertise and get investors. With all darkness there is a light and this company happens to be in the right position to see that light almost as instantly as the dark came over. The only problem that I see with something like this becoming mainstream is the effects it will have on our economy. With our economy having been transitioning to a service and gig based economy for some time coming now, this is going to put a damper on that. One day jobs for doordash and uber eats may be nonexistent because of these robots which would be terrible for those with the jobs. Although it seems like we cannot stop innovation, I think that there should be some limits at robots being able to displace and entire workforce because eventually there may not be anything else to get a job in if we are developing robots to slowly be able to do everything that a person can do.

  5. Covid-19 continues to create a dramatic change in the way that the businesses of the United States operate. Most places have been forced to close their main dining areas and resort only to drive thru and delivery. This has lowered the profit of thee restaurants and will cause many small businesses to close due to a lack of profit. Also, these restaurants have had to lay of workers as they can not afford to pay them while they are at one hundred percent capacity. The coronavirus has devastated the United States Economy and will continue to if the quarantine is in effect. To combat these restraints, a couple restaurants across the country are implementing robot delivery services for trial runs. Starship and Kiwibot are the two main companies that have been creating these robots. The delivery robots are small and not on a scale yet to completely rid of human delivery workers, but they are on track to do exactly that in the future. Because this pandemic, these robots are being innovated and used more than previously, and as a product will likely cause a ripple effect where they advance the introduction of robots into business, especially the food industry.

  6. While I haven’t seen any of these robots myself, I can only imagine what they mean for the future. Just thinking about it, this time is truly perfect for these robots — just from personal experience, the amount me and my family have ordered food to be delivered during this lockdown is probably more than half of last year. This would be a perfect market to target, as I’m sure that these food delivery companies would love to not have to hire drivers. It would also be perfect, considering that these robots wouldn’t be able to catch the virus or become tired because, well, they’re robots. On top of that, you probably wouldn’t have to tip these robots either! Maybe restaurants will make their food more expensive in response, but I’m only just imagining.

    But this topic feeds back into an issue that we’ve discussed all year — automation. If these machines are successful, they’d replace so many people; from pizza delivery drivers, to those who deliver via apps such as UberEats or GrubHub. Just like how cashiers are being replaced in fast food chains and supermarkets, long will be the days of seeing your food deliveryman face-to-face. It’s quite scary really; as time goes on, the more workers we will replace with robots. The question is — can we sustain this? Obviously, new jobs that we cannot even fathom currently will be here in the future. But it surely can’t be healthy to keep eliminating menial jobs, including this one. The worst part is, while this sounds good on paper, it could be even better in effect. Many who are worried about the driver either being late or sneaking some of their food away will have their fears put to rest when these robots are put to work.

  7. During the course of this global pandemic, technology has altered the face of many industries which have traditionally been accustomed to using human employees. For instance, Starship, a small robotics startup company, has been providing food delivery services by the use of small autonomous robots in places like Fairfax City, Virginia and Washington D.C. Other competitors in the robotics industry such as, Nuro and Udelv, have partnered with big chain restaurants and grocery stores like: Domino’s and Walmart to get a jump on the bandwagon as well as innovate in separate areas of the industry such as sidewalk robots and self-driving robots. The services provided by these companies have been bought by many city officials and corporations due to the fact that they are providing some growth to the economy during this uncertain time. A majority of consumers have seen these vehicles as a necessity to get both their groceries and freshly-cooked meals without the risk of going outside and possibly contracting the virus. The convenience and ease-of-access has also, enticed many investors to buy stock in these companies increasing their earnings tenfold while most other industries are struggling to stay afloat in this current situation. Overall, the growth of the robotics industry due to the coronavirus crisis has fueled the rapid progression towards a global future of technology for all industries. One such industry that has adapted to this new climate has been the fast-food industry, which has gone about embracing this by utilizing technology to gradually replace traditional human labor to largely save on operating costs in the long run, while adapting towards the climate of this global pandemic, as well as to be able to increase efficiency and convenience in doing business in the service sector of the greater industry.

    Initially, McDonald’s, one of the largest fast-food restaurants in the world, has innovated itself during the pandemic by using artificially intelligent deep-fryers and voice-activated drive-throughs in order to capitalize on current trends towards a more automated labor process for fast-food in the future and improving the quality and efficiency of the customer experience overall. In an effort to make the fast-food experience more satisfactory for the customer, McDonald’s has been testing voice-activated drive-throughs with various locations in suburban Chicago. Orderscape Inc., a technology startup company that specializes voice-activation software, created this computer programs to assist restaurants in eliminating the human error associated with recording customer orders. Specifically, the software takes the order by recording the customer’s request via speaker and then digitally listing it for human employees to prepare. McDonald’s has also, spent money on robotic deep-fryers which will minimize costs associated with cooking meals over an extended period of time. These robotic deep fryers have proven themselves to be precise in the accuracy of how to cook items on the menu. Customer feedback on this new technology has been excerpted as such: “‘It worked perfectly,’ said Tony Parish, a 65-year old diesel mechanic from Naperville, Illinois, and frequent McDonald’s customer”. In short, customers seem to be satisfied with their orders automated by this new technology implemented by McDonald’s as there’s shown to be little to no room for error in the process. While these reforms have only been implemented in certain locations in the United States, McDonald’s may analyze the combined total performances from these tested innovations towards expansion into their global franchises. This is exemplified in a statement by McDonald’s senior vice president, Martin Smoot who stated that: “…the voice-activated drive-through and robotic deep fryer will be tested at more restaurants soon”. With such technology in place, it seems that McDonald’s will gradually be shifting their interests towards making the customer experience more quick, convenient, and satisfying, in regards to, perfecting service in the fast-food industry. Although these machines are still in their primitive stages of testing, it should be noted that all the data from their performance hasn’t been collected and analyzed yet, so McDonald’s won’t know more until this experiment has concluded.

    With the introduction of Flippy, the burger-flipping robot, being tested at California-based burger locations, investors and consumers will notice a trend towards the use of robotics to simplify the burger making process (as well as adapting to the current state of the industry as a result of the coronavirus). Miso Robotics, a small robotics company that created Flippy, has explained that Flippy functions as a “kitchen-assistant” using its thermal vision and robotic arm to not only help in the preparation of the burgers but, to give specific advice to human chefs in the kitchen as to how to further improve the quality of the burger. While Flippy has initially been designed to work alongside humans in the kitchen, it should be noted that more active re-designs to the product have been put in place to further increase independent performance and functionality to increase its capabilities at doing more than just “flipping burgers”. To further elaborate on the point of why Flippy is unable to do more than “flip burgers” at the moment is because: “…it’s like general intelligence vs. current narrow A.I. existing machine intelligence is brilliant at doing single-tasks exceptionally well” yet, “…it can’t generalize and perform multiple tasks.” Essentially, although the technology behind Flippy, the burger flipping robot, has been able to perform its expressed purpose, it still lacks the capabilities to work more efficiently at doing multiple tasks in the kitchen to replace human labor. Still with rising minimum wage costs and lack of workers being available in this pandemic, Flippy may be able to cut costs and save money for large companies in the fast-food industry in regards to labor. In fact, the need for technology like Flippy in the workplace is so paramount that co-founder and CEO of Miso Robotics, Buck Jordan proclaims that: “…our customers are more concerned about shifts being open than they are replacing workers.” Buck Jordan has also stated that: “the move to automation…is only going to be more pressing as the years go on.” As the demand for home-deliveries has exploded in the past decade, people need more efficient and convenient ways of having their food cooked and delivered to them. Human chefs and delivery drivers at large fast-food corporations can’t compete with the growth of innovative robotics to service this rapidly growing sector of customer service in the fast-food industry. Not only that, but fast-food companies have the need to cut down on increasing costs for hiring and training minimum wage employees to work in the kitchen because of the trend increasing minimum wage costs by state and local governments plus, social distancing regulations during this pandemic moving most of their labor force into unemployment due to fear of the spread of coronavirus. Overall, with these reasons it’s safe to assume that many large fast-food corporations will contribute more investments towards the growth of technology in the future of the American economy, in order to, work towards the goal of cutting costs efficiently in order to allocate more money towards creating a profit in this current climate.

    In summation, as growth in the global economy has been shut down by the coronavirus pandemic there’s been a renewed newfound interest towards the trend of the use of technology to facilitate human needs in many essential industries. In the fast food industry, innovation has been greatly emphasized in both establishing a precedent of increased efficiency and convenience in the preparation of customer orders as well as cutting back on labor costs by utilizing technology to replace human labor. McDonald’s has demonstrated with its artificially intelligent deep fryers and voice-activated drive-throughs that automation and further simplification of the labor process is necessary in increasing both customer satisfaction as well as improving the efficiency of service. Flippy, the burger flipping robot, has displayed its potential in replacing minimum wage labor to both reduce the total cost of employment for large fast-food corporations as well as adapt to the current climate of reduced human interaction during the pandemic. Essentially, while this technology for the fast-food industry has only been tested in development, larger-companies should still continue to implement this change for their own benefits of growth in the industry while seizing on the new trends of technology, in order to, vastly update and improve their respective performance over the competition in the industry.

    My Sources:

    -https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/04/the-pandemic-is-bringing-us-closer-to-our-robot-takeout-future/

    -https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcdonalds-tests-robot-fryers-and-voice-activated-drive-throughs-11561060920

    -https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/flippy-burger-robot-changing-fast-food/

    -https://thespoon.tech/mcdonalds-is-testing-kitchen-robots-and-ai-powered-drive-thrus-its-about-time/

  8. Technology is taking another trend in our society and most people are very comfortable with the ease that is attached to it. For example, the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), a person can control their homes from the click of a button or a tap on their phone screen. The invention of robots is not surprising to serve in such capacity. It is not even a surprise that this has been invented way before the time and inventors were just waiting for the society to grow up to it. When you look in car manufacturing plants, robots are programmed to perform various tasks. The use of robots produces more as compared to humans. Looking at the numbers of cars that are produced by the hour, it is very impossible for humans to come up with such numbers. Robotic automation is bound to take over humans working in information technology and other industries. For example, take a look at the self-serving cashers. With this technology, many cashiers have been laid off because their roles have been taken by machines.

    Machine learning has advanced as well as artificial intelligence with the brilliant experiments of computer scientists. These scientists are modeling robots to behave like humans. Sooner or later there will be no one working in stores, banks, factories, etc… Automatic is the way to go but my only concern is the security threat that they may face. When it comes to humans, there may be some physical controls in place but for these robots, there may exist some gap. Take for example, if a robot is delivering food and encounters some issues such as vandalism, what control would be in place to ensure that the robot is protected during the execution of the task. In as much as robots are threatening the future of humans with respect to labor, they may lack the capacity to think critically when there incidents beyond their functionality.

  9. The use of technology becomes very helpful to prevent the risk of human interaction during this pandemic. This technology would help people get food with technology without the threat of the face to face interactions. The campus at George Mason University was quite from the recent COVID-19 pandemics. As you walk the campus by the Starbucks there is a six-wheeled, microwave sized robot zipping along the sidewalk. During the pandemic robots used for this purpose have become quite popular. This allowed companies to start using real-world applications with minimal supervision for real-world applications. After the lockdown was ordered the amount of food deliveries has risen. Many executives have started using two different robot companies, Starship and Kiwibot. The technology for robot deliveries remains very rare but it is a very doable thing to pull off. The demand from the lockdown customers had only gone up with the lo-cost and no need for a tip way of delivery from robot. The robot alone will not prevent the human-driven food delivery entity. After some time we will need bigger and faster robots to do jobs in suburban and rural areas. This new kind of robot is only a little compared to what is to come. An area they are expanding this technology in is Fairfax City, Virginia. There is a lot of people in this city that will rely heavily on this system as a means to receive food daily. This delivery system will also help with grocery shopping as well as take out food. The only problem with this robot system is sometimes they could become very busy without having enough hands for all the service they serve. People would compare many of the fees in using the robot delivery system is very comparable to using a Grubhub or Door Dash. this service would be very cost-efficient for people to use instead of paying a delivery driving entirely.

  10. Throughout corona virus for many businesses in the food service industry delivery orders have surged coming in at greater quantities than before. Fewer people are leaving their homes to get food and thus there has been a need to get food from restaurants to people’s homes. As a result, delivery from restaurants has been hectic and busy. On my days off from school I deliver pizza for a local pizzeria. This pandemic has had an obvious effect on my work given that there are more people ordering delivery. With more people ordering I have gone, on average, on more deliveries than before and in turn have made more money. However, I believe that the virus is cause for a rise in tips that has seemed to happen. I believe that people are more thankful and appreciative of drivers now given our situation and in turn throw a couple extra dollars than they used to with seeming unaffected by the minor inconveniences. While working a job such as delivery driver its unsettling to think that my job could be taken by a cooler with wheels but that is just the way the world is going. We are becoming more technologically advanced everyday and changes like this are happening all over. Delivery robots, especially in times like this, make sense. They are cheap, easy, and a safe mode of contactless delivery. I could definitely see people being draw to the fact that its contactless and limits the spread of the virus, as well as it is an added bonus not having to tip. As a result this type of delivery system would be good for places such as college campuses and places that are not heavy with traffic, but for a place like the pizzeria where I work it would not be able to work. We deliver not only in town but to the surrounding towns as well and sometimes have to go up to 8 miles away from the restaurant for a drop off. Driving down the highways and through side streets to make it to houses would be impossible for robots of this size to do efficiently. It would be very cool to have robot delivery, and it very well could happen in the future given the platform that corona virus has left it, however it is very far away from becoming a reality for all food service delivery.

  11. The idea of automated food delivery is very intriguing. On college campuses or small communities the potential of these robots being popular and successful is very high. As someone who cares about their health and safety while going through these different times I would definitely be up to trying these robots for food delivery or even anything else. With many different stores, dining areas and shops on college campuses these robots don’t have to be used for just food. If you ordered books, apparel, or other items from the bookstore then the robot could go there as well. If your campus has some type of grocery store or small shop on campus for foods to keep in your dorm then you could have the robots get groceries or other food items to deliver to your dorm, apartment or wherever you live as well. These things on top of dining halls and on or off campus restaurants have potential to be a huge success. Not only could they be popular for convenience among students and staff, but they can be a safe option to transport food and other goods amid the Covid-19 pandemic. I personally would welcome these to Seton Hall because of the size of our campus and the various places on campus that you could order from. I feel that this would be a great way for students and staff to stay safe while being able to have access to many needed items and delicious foods for everyone to enjoy. I could also see these robots being implemented into gated communities, apartment complexes and places where there are a lot of local restaurants. They might not be as popular right now, but the potential for these robots to succeed especially with the pandemic going on, I feel like the chances of success are even higher.

  12. The expansion and innovation of modern technology continues to fascinate me. Often times, I will inwardly question how vehicles have evolved into their current form and if the original inventors thought to themselves “Ah, yes, we’ll put the engine here and the base will connect here and the brakes will obviously have to go here.” While my internal dialogue may seem a bit childish, I am truly baffled by technology and the innovations that continue to spring from the minds of developers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and more. This fascination was again brought to life upon reading this article about Starship and the new frontier of delivery services. I am no stranger to delivery services, especially living in the midst of a global pandemic¬¬— in-person service has become scarce, and almost taboo in the case of restaurant and service industries. The delivery service offered by Starship caters to the new demand for contactless delivery and provides a new option for individuals seeking fast, convenient delivery of their groceries, fast food, etc.

    This article also provided another layer of shock value to me, as this was not my first interaction with these robots. My first encounter with these delivery vehicles occurred last year at the University of Pittsburgh, where I was attending a conference with a school organization. I vividly remember thinking the robots were so silly as they rolled down the sidewalk, and I questioned the need for such things—why couldn’t people just walk down the street to pick up their food? Looking back, I am eating my words. The demand for delivery has been so prevalent with the number of people at home, global fear of infection, and literal laws preventing service industries from operating in-person. The appeal for Starship’s service comes from remaining “personless” and eliminating the need to tip the delivery driver, but there must be some trade off for this financial break. The time it could take the robot to get to a delivery location, due to unforeseen obstacles or longer routes, poses an issue for me as the consumer. I am also not convinced that the robot could function in an extremely busy area such as New York City, where people are constantly bustling and there is seemingly not enough sidewalk as it is, or in more spread-out rural areas, as it may take longer to travel sprawling distances. While these locations do not seem to pose the best markets for Starship, I acknowledge the promising growth in the locations they currently serve, such as campuses and smaller areas.

    When reading about the author’s personal experience using this service, I was interested in the fact that the employees of the business he ordered from had no idea where the delivery was going. This brought up the question—if the robot were for some reason to get lost or off track, who would be responsible for rectifying this? If the business has delivery information, the customer would be unable to get any updates from them for delivery issues and would have to go through Starship. If Starship has not done so already, it might be advantageous to share this information with the establishment to provide a fail-safe if deliveries happen to go awry. Another point taken from the author’s experience is the statement made by the employee that Starship was giving employees hours. While I initially thought Starship’s service would be taking away from standard delivery jobs, it seems that it actually bolstered jobs for those working service jobs during the pandemic; customers seeking delivery through Starship’s service provided enough business to remain open, which somewhat counteracts the reduction in hours for the delivery drivers themselves.

    I would be excited to see Starship on campus and know that things have come full-circle, from making fun of the silly robots to encountering them in my day-to-day life– just another technological advancement for me to ogle at and question, “How did this come to be?”

  13. With the technological innovation of a delivery robot being developed by companies such as Starship and Kiwibot, the once science-fictional concepts derived from books, movies, and other forms of expressing imagination are now being brought to reality. In the next decade or two, it is imaginable that companies such as Starship and Kiwibot will become more prominent and more developed AI technology will be commercially used. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly propels the popularization of the use of these technologies, as people still want to purchase food from their desired restaurants, grocery stores, and fast food or take-out places without unnecessarily interacting with others face-to-face.
    A benefit that is derived from not interacting with someone face-to-face, not including the risk of spreading disease, is that people no longer have to tip the deliverer. Not tipping whoever delivers the food immediately reduces the cost of ordering food anywhere from five to ten dollars, depending on a number of factors such as how much food is being ordered, how long it takes for the food to arrive, and so on. Not only is the cost of tipping removed from the price of the order, but the cost of having food delivered via the robot essentially remains the same as ordering from delivery services such as DoorDash or GrubHub.
    A problem that is commonly discussed is the effect that the robots will have on the economy. Delivery jobs will inevitably be lost to the six-wheeled Starship robots; humans will no longer be needed to fill the void of delivery services. This shift in the availability of jobs can be either considered a beneficial change or, on the other hand, detrimental. People who work for delivery services will ultimately lose their jobs and must find another source of income. The age range that is mostly affected by the loss of delivery jobs are young people who are still in high school or college; one should not expect to be able to completely support themselves and/or a family with only a delivery occupation. With the absence of delivery service jobs due to robots filling the void of needed employment, people will need to find other things to do to occupy their time. “Other things” can comprise of anything, including other jobs and potentially greater sources of income. It is entirely probable that in the future, the youth may work generally more complicated and advanced jobs than the youth of today. Rather than being the person who delivers the food, a high school kid may instead work on the robot that delivers the food; they can help with maintenance of the robot and management of the robot during particular social situations in which the robot itself would be unable to properly act or react.

  14. In “ars TECHINA’s” blog describing robots, they bring up a topic that some people would go against completely. Small robots are taking over our world. They are surveilling malls, schools, and grocery stores. The bigger picture behind robots is that they are taking away thousands and eventually millions of jobs from hard-working Americans. Unfortunately, robots work faster and more efficient than humans. They also cost less money. In some cases, they are a wonderful invention, in other cases they are threatening someone’s job. Robots being created today can detect spills in grocery stores, roll around cameras to detect foul play in shopping malls, and deliver food to people’s homes.
    Living in today’s world is wonderful because we can see all the new inventions, but when we dive deep, I think about how many people are going to lose jobs. Other types of robots are taking over our world as well. Tablets to order your food in fast food restaurants, or a tablet at your table at other restaurants. These are other types of robots which are causing people to lose their jobs. Employees do not even realize that sooner or later their job will be lost, but if a company can buy an intricate tablet for a few thousand dollars and only hire one or two employees to keep up with the tablets or any other inconvenience, a company will save thousands of dollars on paychecks.
    The article highlights new technology in the UK, but in places like San Francisco, California, new technology is being tested as well. Robots will eventually be beneficial in our world’s finances, and air quality as well. Robot delivery services, means less air pollution from cars. Robots also mean less money people must dispense for tips on delivery services.
    Robot services could also mean a risk of information being stolen. If robots carry information about individuals, and someone hacks the robot, they could potentially get all of someone’s information. This is a huge safety hazard but would need to be perfected with time. Putting information on a piece of paper could eventually be ripped up, but when information is on technology, it is there forever. Most people who work with the specific technology could also know how to hack it. Unfortunately, with the efficiency of robots, comes a huge risk. Robot technology could change the future of our world, and in years to come as robots become more popular it could create a more efficient environment for the whole country, as well as other countries who have the same technology.

  15. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are becoming more integrated into the business world. These technologies are transforming our lives and workforce. I like that this article shows both faces of automation – the good and the ugly. Automation has and will disrupt our jobs, some fields more than others. We can see how robots can perform delivery services on university campus and could replace the jobs of software engineers and legal clerks. However, if we keep a narrow focus we hand up overlooking some of the most important and vital benefits of optimizing work automation. For example, it can eliminate tedious repetitive tasks enabling people to accomplish more and spend more time on creative endeavors. Yes automation poses a threat to workers but statistics show that the effects of automation are more gradual and automation displaces far fewer workers than we think and technology could never totally replace the human mind.

  16. It is astonishing how quickly robots went from a gimmick in science fiction movies to slowly becoming integrated into many aspects of daily life. If there is one good thing to come from this pandemic it is a greater focus on AI and robots. While the potential uses for intelligent robots are endless, there is a large argument against them, which would be the loss of millions of jobs. However, I see the use of robots for less skilled labor, like food delivery and driving, as an important step toward a more educated humanity. If the need for unskilled labor drops to almost zero, there will be more incentive for people to become educated and take on more skilled jobs that robots can not do yet, like psychiatry or law. The use of robots for meager tasks will allow humans to focus on more important and complex issues such as the environment or medicine. There are, of course, good arguments against having little six-wheeled robots zipping around your neighborhood. If these delivery bots become more widely used it is hard to imagine that there would not be accidents caused by the bots or they would just start to get in the way. As mentioned in the article the delivery bots, specifically Kiwibot, do extremely well, which I would attribute to younger people generally being more excited by technology and change. In the article, the author leaves the lid of the robot open and watches it sit idly by waiting to be closed. Drawing off this, it appears that this technology, while viable and apparently efficient, it is still in its infancy and will have problems it will not be able to deal with. One such problem I thought about was what would happen if it got tipped over or came across some construction, if a worker has to go out and retrieve a stuck robot, it seems that this would be a hard product to bring nationally. Much like anything new, once the delivery robots become mainstream and efficient, everyone will stop complaining about them.

  17. The idea of having a robot deliver you food seems like an idea from the future, but it’s slowly becoming reality. Although, this integration of automated delivery service was likely accelerated by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many people like quick and effortless service. Especially with the multitude of food delivery apps such as GrubHub and DoorDash, it makes sense that companies are trying to cut out the human element, which will reduce costs. From the article, the benefits of employing food delivery robots are mentioned, “James even notes there was a big advantage to robot deliveries versus other on-demand delivery services: there’s no need to tip” (https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/04/the-pandemic-is-bringing-us-closer-to-our-robot-takeout-future/). I could definitely see this sort of service thrive on college campuses, as students are usually on tight budgets. Not having to worry about leaving a tip for delivery can lead to less headache when it comes time to pay.
    With the advancement of technology and its ability to transform everyday life, people might be wary to this sudden transition. For example, Tesla vehicles have an autopilot feature, but in some cases the fully electric cars slow down at green light (https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/27/tech/tesla-autopilot-stoplight/index.html). Therefore, consumers may be afraid of technology and its ability to fail at times. However, Starship seems to have approached this concern with careful preparation, “Like most self-driving projects, Starship pre-maps each area where its robots operate. This helps the robot in a number of ways. It can verify its position by noting the locations of known landmarks” (Lee). Since these robots are safe and more efficient than humans, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this technology implemented elsewhere. For example, fast food workers may be replaced with automated machines, due to the repetitive nature of the work. Since there’s a push for streamlining industries with automated processes, it’ll be interesting to see what other areas adopt the use of technology.

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