Robots are good for all kinds of things, but almost all of those things (with a few exceptions) are not things that are intended to make the lives of lazy humans (on an individual basis) better. Like, immediately better. As in, “bring me a sandwich” better.
Yujin Robot, perhaps best known for (if you live in Asia) vacuums or (if you live in ROS) Turtlebot 2, is now testing out a food delivery robot that’s safe enough, and affordable enough, to operate autonomously in care facilities.
The GoCart system is clever enough to control a team of robots, autonomously sorting out which needs to go where, and when. It’s probably most efficient, as the video points out, during fixed mealtimes where it can work out cooperative scheduling in advance, but by far the most exciting feature is the ability to order snacks on your smartphone. This is a unique capability that should really be added to the comparison chart below:
We’re obviously missing a few details here, like detailed tech specs (although it looks like there’s some sort of laser down there along with sonar and a Kinect-ish thing) as well as what’s arguably most important, which is whether GoCart really is affordable for small facilities. The suggestion is that it solves the “robots are too expensive” problem, but calling something affordable without providing even a suggestion of a price never fails to make us suspicious. It’s also not quite clear from the information available how much infrastructure is required to get one or more GoCarts up and running.
Now, while GoCart certainly isn’t competition for Savioke’s SaviOne/Botlr, it’s cool to see that there are several of these relatively “affordable” delivery robots out on the market with the ability to wander around on their own in semi-structured environments amongst humans that may not be entirely comfortable with them. Technology has progressed far enough to make this possible, but more importantly, confidence in the technology has progressed far enough to make this possible, too.
GoCart will start testing this October in a retirement community somewhere in the northeastern United States, and a facility in southern Sweden.