thing has potential to significantly help disabled people & authors seem to mock its existence

This manner of thing has potential to significantly help disabled people & the article has a feeling which makes it seem to me that the authors are ultimately mocking its very existence.

November 25, 2019

Grocery-carrying robots are coming. Do we need them?

by Matt O'brien

Corporate giants like Amazon, FedEx and Ford have already been experimenting with sending delivery robots to doorsteps. Now Piaggio, the Italian company that makes the Vespa scooter, is offering a stylish alternative to those blandly utilitarian machines—albeit one that weighs 50 pounds (23 kilograms) and costs $3,250.

It's named the Gita (JEE'-tah) after the Italian word for a short, pleasurable excursion—the kind you might take to pick up some lacinato kale and gourmet cheese at the farmers market. Its creators have such trips in mind for the "hands-free carrier" that can hold produce and other objects as it follows its owner down a sidewalk.

"We're trying to get you out into the world and connected to that neighborhood you decided to move to because it was so walkable," said Greg Lynn, CEO of Piaggio's tech-focused subsidiary, Piaggio Fast Forward.

Tech industry analysts are already declaring the Gita as doomed to fail unless it finds a more practical application, such as lugging tools around warehouses, hospitals or factory floors.


Let the market decide. I'd have no use for it here, and if I lived in a city and needed to carry more than would fit in my backpack, hand-towable carts or wagons are much cheaper, less likely to be stolen (probably hard to fence), and less likely to fail unexpectedly. I don't see the Gita as having much of a market among average people.

I would guess that for $3k, you could get a lot of stuff delivered directly to your door, without having the robot take up space in your home.
The robot is....interesting. But I feel the same as @Wishful about it. That robot would go nuts trying to deliver to my house (mud, floods, way out in the country, ice, and all sorts of anti-robot hazards)
But amazingly for £2 delivery fee I can get a whole two weeks' worth of groceries delivered! The big delivery trucks never seem to have much problem getting to my place.
If I order from Amazon, there's a local guy who drives a van who brings the orders. A nice guy, and I think he appreciates his job!
I would certainly find them useful, I can't driver car since my concentration is not good enough as to do it safely, and I used to buy groceries using a back pack, but I can't do it any more as I developed a thoracic disk herniation. Robots like these would be extremely useful for many disabled people, there's nothing laughable about them! they could also carry your medicines, your books, etc. I can no longer carry anything :-(
@lauluce , I'm guessing that even pulling a cart would hurt your back (although maybe the right pushcart might make it easier to walk?). I'm sure there are some people who could make good use of the Gita. I'm just guessing that it's a very small market. Maybe not large enough to support the unique production requirements (molds, production runs on fabs, training assemblers, etc) at the $3k price.

Like I said, the market will decide whether the company sells enough to continue making them. I didn't feel that the article was mocking it, as much as questioning the existence of the intended market.
I didn't feel that the article was mocking it, as much as questioning the existence of the intended market.
Yes that's the feeling I got too.
Yes my back is not too wonderful. It has good days and bad. I have a strong metal cart/trolley which I use to collect firewood. On good days I am okay with that within reason.
I have a strong metal cart/trolley which I use to collect firewood.
A (good) wheelbarrow works well too. I can load mine with maybe 100 lbs, without feeling strain on my back while pushing it. One of my most useful purchases out here. I can't even guess how many tons I've moved with it.

Would be kind of odd to use for groceries though. ;)
Would be kind of odd to use for groceries though. ;)
It would be good to use for groceries :D You could put a tarp over the top? (also to protect against rain/snow etc..But....parking it outside the store, and expecting to see it when you come out, that's another matter !
Just saw this on Tumblr via My Fight With a Sidewalk Robot
A life-threatening encounter with AI technology convinced me that the needs of people with disabilities need to be engineered into our autonomous future.
November 19, 2019

Emily Ackerman

Ph.D. student and disability rights advocate

But don’t mistake this story for a protest against a singular company, or a warning about our possible autonomous future. In fact, the disabled community as a whole could greatly benefit from a delivery service for food or medicine.
Instead, my experience is representative of a much larger, evolving problem. The advancement of robotics, AI, and other “futuristic” technologies has ushered in a new era in the ongoing struggle for representation of people with disabilities in large-scale decision-making settings. These technologies come with their own set of ethical design challenges, with more unknown consequences than ever before. And we have yet to have an honest, critical conversation about it.

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