July 20, 2017

Delivery robots: a revolutionary step or sidewalk-clogging nightmare?



DoorDash Logo
Image Courtesy of DoorDash

Sharing a sidewalk with one of DoorDash’s delivery robots is a bit like getting stuck behind someone playing Pokémon Go on his smartphone. The robot moves a little bit slower than you want to; every few meters it pauses, jerking to the left or right, perhaps turning around, then turning again before continuing on its way.

These are the sidewalks of the future, technology evangelists promise. Autonomous delivery robots, once the exclusive purview of 1980s sci-fi movies, are coming to a city near you, with promises of reduced labor costs, increased efficiency, and the reduction of cars.

But as robot fleets proliferate – Starship robots perform food deliveries for DoorDash and Postmates in Redwood City, California, and Washington DC, while Marble robots will begin making deliveries for Yelp Eat24 in San Francisco on Wednesday – the question none of these companies seems to want to answer is this: are these the sidewalks that we actually want?

Sidewalk-traversing robots are one of several possible solutions to the pesky problem of “last-mile” logistics. Venture capitalists have poured millions into startups employing an army of independent contractors to provide instant gratification to urbanites. But the humans in this equation remain a significant cost, and innovators […]

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The News for the Gig Economy Staff is constantly searching the web for the latest news regarding freelancing and gig platforms to bring them to you in one handy place. All articles with this generic author have been sourced with the original location at the bottom of the piece. We encourage our readers to view the original source of all excerpts. NGE is a project of ARC Online, LLC.

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