The Gita is your rolling robot porter

Published by HimaBindu on

The Gita is your rolling robot porter

It might not save the world, but it can at least carry your stuff.

Though robots are increasingly making their way into factories, offices and even airports, they’re still not something you’d encounter walking down a city street — and definitely not in a way that’s personally useful to you. We’d all love to have our own personal BB-8 droid to follow us around and help get things done, but so far we’ve had to settle for robotic vacuums and airport greeters. Piaggio Fast Forward promises to bring us a bit closer to that science-fiction reality with its smart cargo vehicle, the Gita. It’s relatively small, attractive and can follow you every where, ready to lend a hand when you’ve taken on too much to carry.

For larger loads, Piaggio’s been working on a larger sibling called the Kilo. It’s more than twice as long with an open bay and can handle up to 200 pounds. The Kilo is intended for delivery people, who can fill up the container with packages and have it follow them on their routes.

How exactly do the Gita and Kilo know where to go? They don’t use GPS — which is fine because the device is intended to work indoors as well as outdoors. Right now, there are two modes of basic operation. The Gita can follow a person wearing a special belt, which connects to the robot via WiFi. The belts are currently rough, bulky prototypes, with a cooling unit clearly visible inside the 3D-printed housing. The belt has cameras built in, which helps the Gita determine where exactly you’re going.

The Gita maintains a good distance while you’re walking or running, but will sidle up close once it’s determined you’ve stopped moving around. It’s not perfect just yet; during my demo the Gita seemed a little confused as to which direction it should face. But this is still an early version, with four to six months of testing ahead of it.

The other mode is Gita’s autonomous mode, in which it will map out an area and journey to and fro on its own. This can be useful for letting it run errands — one of the current ideas is to have Gita do deliveries, only unlocking its compartments once it’s reached the intended recipient. Gitas can also work together in a convoy, communicating with each other about their surroundings and traveling in a straight line like ducklings following their mother.

Categories: technology