Those fearing future robot enslavement or being replaced by super intelligent machines should look away now because a new self-driving droid in London is threatening to do away with human involvement in the delivery industry.
Developed by the former whizzkid founders of Skype, the six-wheeled delivery robot is just the latest in a long line of ways in which humans could be made a redundant feature of the future workforce.
Described as a “friendly” curbside robot, the mini road runner gives off zero emissions and use of the device will cost customers just £1 (about US$1.4) per shipment of goods or groceries. Friendly, cheap, and with no holiday requirements? Prepare yourselves for the scrap heap, humans.
A recent Pew Research Center Poll of the American workforce found that two-thirds of people fear advanced technology will do away with much of human employment over the next 50 years.
And now it appears those fears could be realised even sooner across the water – at least in the area of couriership – if the trial of the low cost Starship Technologies robot goes well in Britain.
The robot is fitted with GPS tracking and can autonomously navigate its way through busy streets using a series of sensors and nine cameras. A mobile app allows users to map their delivery in real-time.
Should any hiccups occur along the way, an operator can take control of the vehicle.
“Our robots are a totally new class of devices that will provide a combination of low cost and convenience with less congested streets and zero emissions,” explains Ahti Heinla, chief executive of Starship Technologies, in a statement.
The device has been in development for two years and is being trialled in the London borough of Greenwich, before being rolled out to other parts of England, Scotland and Wales.
“The robot has been very well-received by pedestrians in all of the interactions we’ve seen so far, so it’s very exciting to be officially introducing the robot to the British public,” Heinla added.
It comes amid claims international advertising agency McCann Erickson has appointed the world’s first robot “creative director” to its Japan office.
It’s unclear whether the move to “hire” AI-CD β is an advert itself – or even an early April Fool’s Day prank – by the agency which counts Coca-Cola, MasterCard and GlaxoSmithKline among its clients.
A statement on the McCann Erickson Facebook page explained the robot will “start its career analyzing the last 10 years of the All Japan Radio + Television Commercial Festival to understand the current state of creative intelligence”.
The company claim the project is the brainchild of the ‘McCann Millennials’ innovation group and will be involved in producing marketing campaigns.
Hopefully their project will go more smoothly than Microsoft’s recent AI Twitter bot experiment, which had to be pulled just one day after launch when it went on a foul-mouthed hate tirade.