Piaggio wheels out its grocery-carrying Gita robot
After showing off an early developmental version back in 2017, Piaggio Fast Forward has wheeled out a consumer-ready courier robot built to carry everyday items for folks on foot. Gita can be loaded up with 40 lb (18 kg) of cargo and will trail its owner as they go about their lives, though such a luxury won’t come cheap.
When Piaggio-owned Piaggio Fast Forward first revealed its Gita concept a couple of years ago, it imagined a small, self-balancing robotic courier autonomously carting groceries and other goods around at up to 35 km/h (22 mph), speeds very much at the faster end for an urban cyclist.
It would follow its owner like a loyal dog through technology known as SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), which would enable it to build a 3D map of the user’s environment as they move through it. With the help of a forward-facing stereo camera system, Gita could then navigate through these familiar environments on its own, allowing for autonomous missions without needing to follow the lead of its owner.
This vision has been compromised somewhat, but perhaps not in a bad way. Piaggio Fast Forward now wants Gita to act exclusively as a companion and it is therefore only on the move when it has a human to follow, using visual sensors to find its way. It says the aim is to give humans and not machines, “greater autonomy,” by freeing up the hands to repurpose “everyday errands as opportunities to engage and connect.”
This is a nice idea but you do wonder how helpful Gita is going to be in practice. It cannot climb stairs so any route involving curbs or steps is going to pose some problems, with taller grass, sand and mud also out of the question. Piaggio Fast Forward does note, however, that it can move up and down inclines of up to 16 percent.
Top speed has also been trimmed down to 6 mph (9.6 km/h), an entirely responsible move, while sounds and lights are used to communicate things like battery level and pairing mode. Gita connects with smartphones over Bluetooth and while this isn’t necessary for it to carry out basic functions, it does allow the cargo lid to be locked and unlocked, for music to be played through its speakers and to grant other people access to the machine.
Gita weighs a total of 50 lb (22.7 kg) and can be recharged via a wall outlet in under two hours for four hours of continuous use, while a charging port also allows the battery to charge phones and other devices.
If all of this has you feeling like it's time to ditch the backpack, Gita will be available from November 18 for a price of US$3,250.
Source: Piaggio Fast Forward