Robotics

"The Vespa of Robots" follows you home

"The Vespa of Robots" follows ...
Gita, following behind its leader
Gita, following behind its leader
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Gita can carry up to 40 lb of cargo
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Gita can carry up to 40 lb of cargo
Gita can navigate autonomously
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Gita can navigate autonomously
Gita, following behind its leader
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Gita, following behind its leader
Gita's cameras, along with an ultrasonic range-finding system, constitute an obstacle-avoidance system
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Gita's cameras, along with an ultrasonic range-finding system, constitute an obstacle-avoidance system
One three-hour charge of Gita's battery should be good for about eight of use at walking speed
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One three-hour charge of Gita's battery should be good for about eight of use at walking speed
Gita's touchscreen interface
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Gita's touchscreen interface

Did you haul your stuff around behind you in a wagon when you were a kid? Well, a new branch of the company that makes the Vespa scooter has developed what could be the 21st century equivalent of that wagon. Made by the US-based Piaggio Fast Forward, Gita is a self-balancing two-wheeled cargo robot that can carry up to 40 lb (18 kg) of your groceries or other goods, following along behind you or even striking out on its own.

Gita's name is pronounced "jee-ta," which means "short trip" in Italian. It sits 26 inches tall (66 cm), has a zero turning radius, and can travel at bicycle-like speeds of up to 22 mph (35 km/h). That said, it's also capable of matching the walking speed of its human operator, following them as they mosey hands-free down the sidewalk or along supermarket aisles.

How does that work? Well, the user wears a white belt with a camera on the front. Using an existing technology known as SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), that system creates a 3D point cloud map of the user's environment as they travel through it. Gita is able to ascertain its position and that of its user, within that map, with help from a forward-facing stereo camera system that tracks the belt.

Gita's cameras, along with an ultrasonic range-finding system, constitute an obstacle-avoidance system
Gita's cameras, along with an ultrasonic range-finding system, constitute an obstacle-avoidance system

"If you go out of the line of sight, let's say if you turn around a corner or you may go through an alley, Gita will soon catch up with you," Piaggio Fast Forward COO Sasha Hoffman tells New Atlas. "It still knows where it's going, because it optically has seen the path that you walked."

Additionally, once it's followed a user through an environment, it can use the map that was created to go back through that environment autonomously. The user can create waypoints along the way, which Gita will subsequently stop at when it makes the trip again on its own.

"If you walked all around your house, you could set up the kitchen, the dining room, the front door and the back entrance as different points on the map," explains Hoffman. "If you were at your front door and you needed to send Gita with a package to your kitchen, there's a touchscreen interface and you could literally touch it and tell it within two buttons to head for the kitchen."

Gita can carry up to 40 lb of cargo
Gita can carry up to 40 lb of cargo

One three-hour charge of the robot's battery should be good for about eight hours of use at walking speed. Its cameras, along with an ultrasonic range-finding system, constitute an obstacle-avoidance system that keeps it from running into things.

Plans call for Gita to initially be trialled in a business-to-business model. After about a year, a consumer version is likely to follow.

"Piaggio has a huge history of selling directly to the consumer, so there's definitely an end game of producing a product at a price point that's manageable for the consumer," says Hoffman.

Gita will be officially launched at event taking place in Boston on Feb. 2nd.

Source: Piaggio Fast Forward via Engadget

5 comments
notarichman
other people getting run over? when programmed to stop at a store, what's to stop someone from taking it? some sort of personal lock won't work because then a store clerk couldn't load/unload it. i presume it is powered by batteries; but the article doesn't mention that. what if it's path is blocked by a dog or another human? stair steps? put a gps in it? put an alarm with both sound and bluetooth in case an unauthorized person tries to open or steal it? also doesn't mention the range and charging time or price. come on new atlas get more facts!
JPAR
erm, do steps & kerbs not exist in Gita-land?
SteveO
Pretty cool. However, it is useless for most unless it can climb steps. Once it can do that, put me down for one.
vic
for notarichmana One three-hour charge of the robot's battery should be good for about eight hours of use at walking speed. Its cameras, along with an ultrasonic range-finding system, constitute an obstacle-avoidance system that keeps it from running into things.
Piaggio Fast Forward
@notarichman - Thanks for expressing interest! Gita has several security features. It has a password protected lid, it makes various alarm sounds if someone tries to pick it up or harm the vehicle and it is tracked at all times so you can find Gita if one disappears. In terms of price, we are currently pilot testing with businesses in certain industries but hope to have a consumer product in the next 24 months! Once charged, Gita can run for 8-12 hours. In terms of climbing, Gita cannot climb stairs, call elevators or cross the street by itself. It will follow you indoors, outside, up and down ADA compliant ramps and through doors. If you are crossing the road or going in an elevator, it will follow you; we rely on humans to be the intelligent guide that tells Gita where to go. Thanks,@vic! Follow us on Facebook(@piaggiofastforward) and Twitter(@P_F_F) to stay updated on our progress!