If there's one singular truth to be gleaned from watching Tobor the Great and Wall-E simultaneously projected onto the same movie screen, it's that there's truly nothing more endearing and soul-crushingly terrifying than watching a bunch of robots go about and do tasks normally relegated to humans. That's even more so the case when it's 1:30 AM and a dead-eyed android is passing you a pizza from its cold, metallic chassis.
Whether or not they like it, a whole bunch of Europeans are about to be faced with this unsettling yet adorable truth thanks to the technocratic ambitions of Starship Technologies, a robotics delivery company started by two Skype co-founders.
Just today, it was announced that the online food delivery service Just Eat will be joining the likes of Pronto Technolog, Hermes Group, and German supermarket chain Metro AG in a trial Starship Technologies is conducting with its self-driving robots. Over the last nine months, Starship has been testing their robots in over 12 countries, but this will mark the first time they are used on actual customers.
A photo posted by Starship Technologies (@starshiprobots) on Jun 17, 2016 at 9:16am PDT
While both Just Eat and Pronto will be deploying the autonomous robots for deliveries throughout London, Metro AG and Hermes Group will be making use of them in Bern, Switzerland, Dusseldorf, Germany, and another yet-to-be named German city.
Starship's COO, Allan Martinson, told Bloomberg Technology that each trial business will be given a fleet between five to ten robots for each test city. He also stated that testing within the US was likely to happen in a few months. The stage unfolding now is a critical time for Starship and is being called "the next phase" of the company's development. Ahti Heinla, Starship's CEO and CTO, said in a statement that, "we will now develop know-how on running real robotic delivery services."
That will likely consist of a lot of changes, considering the autonomous delivery robots can only operate on the sidewalk and in a two-to three-mile zone. Right now, they can carry up to 20 pounds of food, so they're pretty set as far as group orders are concerned.
Hey Domino's this is the best way to deliver pizza! #starship #robots #thefuture #dominos A photo posted by Starship Technologies (@starshiprobots) on May 6, 2016 at 7:16am PDT
According to the company, the robots have encountered more than 400,000 people in the previous phase of testing and have yet to have a single accident.
The next time you drunkenly order some pad Thai in the middle of the night, don't be too surprised if the delivery guy seems to have a metallic hue and only communicates in beeps and boops.