The march towards autonomous vehicles from ocean container ships to farm equipment - continues on. But, a new report from the Wall Street Journal says we are far more likely to see robot delivery vehicles than we are autonomous passenger cars any time soon.
"There are a number of reasons things are trending this way, including laws, physics, the nature of existing infrastructure, and the size of the addressable markets, writes Christopher Mims. "But the chief reason, argue academics, analysts and the heads of autonomous-delivery startups, is safety. Protecting human passengers while avoiding accidents with other vehicles is much higher stakes than protecting a pint of ice cream or those headphones you just ordered.However, there are many challenges even for ecommerce deliveries, a market being targeted by companies such as Starship Technologies, which has developed a delivery vehicle that look more like a mobile robot on wheels than a van.
But many logistical hurdles remain. The largest may be that unless cities can create special lanes for these delivery bots, interaction with humans on city sidewalks can be an issue.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal article notes that the delivery vehicle built by a team led by Michael Chia-Liang Lin, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT, crashed right into a bunch or journalist covering the demonstration of the new technology in 2015. No one was hurt, and Lin now says the vehicles, in on-going tests in Taiwan, no longer run into people...