Delivery bots

I put together a post about four and a half years ago called What might a future grocery store look like?. It discussed how robots were starting to appear in warehouses - as of January this year Amazon was operating 45000 of them - as well as what a delivery bot of the future might look like. Amongst what I was thinking back then back then:

a substantially lighter vehicle - don't forgot also the weight of a human driver. ... should it be bigger? smaller? (I'm guessing a limited-speed, light-weight vehicle would be easier to get government approval of than running full-size vehicles). You could eliminate most of the parking lot for most grocery stores and, as the vehicles would be operating within a short range of home base electric vehicles might be more feasible.

Now it seems like these delivery bots are getting to the point where you might start to see these things in operation soon. e.g. Postmates and DoorDash are testing delivery by robot with Starship Technologies (the article has an image of these in front of the White House):

Starship’s robots look something like a cooler on wheels. They travel at a top speed of about 4 miles per hour on busy town sidewalks or streets where the company has attained regulatory permission to roll among the people, and make deliveries. They can carry just over 40 lbs. at a time, and are generally programmed to deliver within a two-mile radius in real world scenarios.

Starship’s nearly self-driving robots are also powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, so they’re relatively quiet and clean compared to something like diesel trucks idling on your corner, or the hoopty a driver may use for their pizza delivery job. A human operator oversees the use of the robots remotely through a fleet management app, but they primarily rely on computer vision and street map data to navigate and drop off an item at a customer’s door.

Small. Slow speed so low risk of inflicting serious damage. A relatively short delivery radius. Battery powered. Another article on the same robots:

Starship Technologies’ robots have already driven thousands of miles in cities around the world, and the company even helped get legislation put in place to make the testing possible in Washington, DC. While these will be the company’s first two commercial trials in the US, Starship has already performed deliveries in the UK and Germany thanks to partnerships with services like Just Eat, Pronto, and Hermes.

The second article discusses airborne drone deliveries but for the moment those seem a bit gimmicky to me. I also expect to see more vehicle like the ones below, but those are larger-sized units. I find the little ones more interesting.

Random links

Can You Microwave a Tea Bag That Has a Staple in It?
"Although one dry staple probably won’t start a fire, it can do some damage. 'It will be much the same as running the microwave empty, which could [burn] a hole through the microwave wall,' warns Mats Selen, professor of physics at the University of Illinois." This suggests that the earlier Alton Brown recommendation of making microwave popcorn in a stapled bag is likely to gradually mess up your microwave - the staple suggestion is not on the version on his website although I think it was in one or more of his books.
The ways that student samples differ from the public varies around the world
Henrich's The Weirdest People in the World looked at how American university students (who are often the research subjects in published research) differ from others around the world - now it seems that "the ways students differ from the public is different depending on which country you’re in".
A Traumatized Reader Discusses Trigger Warnings
"The fact is literally anything in the world can be triggering to someone depending on their experiences and illnesses, it isn’t just obvious stuff like rape."

My favourite "gender pay gap" figure

Random links

Finding China's missing girls
A very interesting figure - showing how parents may have been delaying registering their girls with the state rather than aborting them.
10 Questions for Shadi Hamid (the author of Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World and Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East)
This strikes me as a particularly good question: "What specific belief is one which you hold as likely correct, but which you would prefer not be correct?"
Arctic Ice Management
"We show that where appropriate devices are employed, it is possible to increase ice thickness above natural levels, by about 1 m over the course of the winter. We examine the effects this has in the Arctic climate, concluding that deployment over 10% of the Arctic, especially where ice survival is marginal, could more than reverse current trends of ice loss in the Arctic, using existing industrial capacity. We propose that winter ice thickening by wind-powered pumps be considered and assessed as part of a multi-pronged strategy for restoring sea ice and arresting the strongest feedbacks in the climate system."
Photography Has A Surprising Psychological Benefit, Large Study Finds
My takeaway is that this might help focus your attention a bit, but it's not worth getting nitpicky about equipment (or torturing your friends by sharing an endless stream of photos).


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