Thursday, April 7, 2016

R2D2-like robots are starting to deliver your mail

Wouldn't it be nice if service delivery vans and trucks weren't clogging up city streets, parking in bike lanes, and blasting through your neighborhood?

Not that the drivers aren't performing a great service and all. Who doesn't love to get an anticipated package in the mail?

But one way to solve a major source of traffic congestion may just be R2D2. Someone tweeted that the idea of using robots for mail delivery sounds "like a late April Fool's Day joke."

But it's no joke. The robots are on their way. A feature article on this topic appears on the front page of today's San Francisco Chronicle. The full article is here, and, representing Mobility Lab, I get the first and last quotes in the article:
“These R2D2-like drones ... make a lot of sense for particularly dense places, like city centers, where freight and delivery vehicles are simply running out of space on the roads during rush hours and lunchtimes,” said Paul Mackie, a spokesman for the Mobility Lab, which researches advanced transportation options.
“As cities reimagine themselves to become more walkable, livable places, sidewalks have a central role to play,” said Mackie, the transport futurist. “More and more, people are demanding outdoor living rooms like plazas, sidewalk benches, fountains, cafes and street trees. Frankly, these robots fit into such a landscape much better and much more attractively than the delivery vans and trucks of old.”