If your familiar with Piaggio, it’s probably because of Vespa, that trendy little motorcycle you see putting around chic European cities. However, the company’s also looking to make a name for itself in the realm of robotics with the development of Gita. This new personal delivery device is essentially a knee-height ball held on two tires, and is designed to carry your belongings when you’re on the go. Gita can either carry luggage autonomously through a GPS feature, or by following a human operator. It includes obstacle avoidance technology with multiple embedded cameras built into its shell, and is able to carry up to 40 pounds. The Gita’s zero turning radius and top speed of 22 mph make this device extremely nimble and quick, so maneuvering in tight spaces is no problem. Gita is able to run for eight hours of continuous use according to Piaggio.
“The transportation and robotics industries tend to focus on optimizing tasks and displacing labor,” Jeffrey Schnapp, CEO of Piaggio Fast Forward, said in a release. “We’re developing products that augment and extend human capabilities, instead of simply seeking to replace them.”
While other companies like Zipline and Flirtey have worked on delivery robots using drone technology, Gita needs to follow a human around n order to learn how to navigate a new environment, whether that be an elevator, a busy sidewalk, or a congested shopping mall. In case Gita isn’t welcome in a store, the device an be safely left outside with a fingerprint secured lock. Couple that with the embedded cameras and a GPS device, and I think we can safely say that Gita won’t be a prime target for theft.
“A machine can be intelligent, but isn’t as smart as a human today. Driving down the street and deciding to swerve to avoid hitting a bicyclist or a dog in the road, for example, people make ethical decisions all the time that a self driving car can’t make. If a device is following a person then that person has the lead, and powers the most important decisions around the robot’s movement.”
Gita will officially be unveiled at Piaggio’s Boston headquarters this Thursday, where pricing and availability are likely to be revealed. You can expect to see Gita at pilot tests over the next few months on college campuses and businesses around the US.