Move Over: Robots Will Soon Share The Sidewalk

Jul 31, 2017

Ohio is now the fifth state in the nation to allow delivery robots on sidewalks. The Buckeye State joins Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia and Idaho where a robot the size of a large cooler can peacefully coexist with the public as it delivers take-out food, groceries, clothes, and more.

Starship Technologies makes the robots and plans to test them in Columbus, Ohio, this year. The company, founded by the people who developed Skype, has already tested them in 80 cities in 16 countries.

Spokesman Henry Harris-Burland says the concept is simple. You tell the robot to pick up something for you. It has to be within a two mile radius. Then you track it and when it gets to your door it messages you. You click on a link and it unlocks a compartment that's about the size of three grocery bags. You take out your goods and send it on its way.

Starship travels about four miles an hour. That's about as fast as people walk, taking between 15 and 45 minutes to get your delivery to you.

Nine cameras monitor the surroundings.

Ohio State University marketing lecturer Steve DeNunzio is not surprised Starship picked Columbus to test its product, He says the city has a long history of being a good test market which has unlocked millions of dollars in innovation and automation. Recently it was named America's Smart City.