Robots Invade Campus to Deliver Burritos

October 10, 2018 11:35 AM
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((INTRODUCTION))  [[Companies race to make self driving automobiles, but there's another race going on to create robots that can roam through neighborhoods, to deliver food and other purchases. Michelle Quinn reports on one robotic fleet in Berkeley, California.]]   ((NARRATOR)) This is not a robot invasion. Just Kiwi robots roaming Berkeley waiting for their next delivery.   ((SASHA IATSENIA, HEAD OF PRODUCT, KIWI)) "We have little robots that roam the sidewalk and deliver food to your neighborhood. Instead of doing two or three deliveries an hour, as the industry does today, we're able to do six to eight."   ((NARRATOR)) Using a phone app, customers order food from a local restaurant, which a human courier picks up and brings to a nearby robot, which rolls the meal the rest of the way to a waiting customer.   They're still a novelty on the street, but these Kiwi robots come equipped with six cameras and sensors to measure distance, avoid obstacles and still deliver their orders on time.  ((BALA YELLAPRAGADA, DATA SCIENTIST, KIWI)) "This visualizer over here is showing what the auto pilot is actually looking at, so it can detect things like cars moving past or the feet of the people or the scooter."   ((NARRATOR))  The robots go back to Kiwi headquarters each night where they are tweaked for optimum performance.   ((BALA YELLAPRAGADA, DATA SCIENTIST, KIWI))   "The autopilot is actually looking at the shadows over hereand thinking the shadows are a new wall or border and it's trying to avoid that, we don't want that to happen."   ((NARRATOR)) And if the camera system fails, another sensor stops the robot in time.    ((NARRATOR)) The other fail safe - is a team in Colombia which monitors the robots' every step.    ((SASHA IATSENIA))  "It's basically a bunch of people who are sitting around with joysticks like pretty much playing video games except in real life, you know, they actually like making sure the robot doesn't fall off the side of the street or like bump into someone."   ((NARRATOR)) It may seem like a lot of effort just to deliver a burrito in under 35 minutes. But each delivery brings us closer to a future where robots are more than just a cute novelty.   ((Michelle Quinn, VOA NEWS, Berkley, California.))