Sushi lovers are no strangers to food on demand – but now Japanese robotics company ZMP is moving from conveyor belts to autonomous robot delivery.
Apart from the regulatory and safety issues, one of the main things holding back drone delivery is that, to many, the method seems a little sinister and intimidating. Drones will probably never be nice to look at. The point is superficial, but in practice, it’s about public perception, which is why friendly-looking, ground-based delivery robots have been embraced more readily in recent times.
Read more: JD.com launches robot delivery in China
Smartphone-assisted sushi delivery
The latest to put a friendly face on autonomous delivery is Japanese robotics company ZMP. The team has created an affable red robot, CarriRo Delivery, that’s capable of finding its way around using a combination of sensors and cameras.
CarriRo Delivery can hold enough sushi to feed 60 people while travelling at 3.73mph, the speed of a brisk walker. ZMP has a range of robotics products for commercial environments; this appears to be the first that will be consumer-facing.
The company has signed a deal with fast food delivery service Ride On Express, whose brands include sushi trader Gin no Sara. From August, CarriRo Delivery robots will be trialled as the final part of the distribution chain.
As with many equivalent food delivery services around the world, customers will order through an application and choose the location for delivery. When the robot arrives, the app will provide a key to unlock the CarriRo and the sushi will be released.
Working around legislation
As drone delivery companies such as Amazon have discovered, finding suitable places to test autonomous delivery isn’t easy. Even in Japan, a country renowned for technology and innovation, legislation surrounding the use of robots to deliver goods is hazy at best.
Because of this, ZMP’s CarriRo Delivery robots will begin their initial testing away from public walkways. Instead, they will act as the last leg of the delivery network in private areas, such as office parks and company premises.
Food and robots meet again
There’s certainly something appealing about automated food delivery. Aside from not needing to tip the driver, it could become a way for fast food companies to ensure deliveries arrive in good time.
ZMP is following in the footsteps of Dominos, which last year delivered pizza by drone in New Zealand. Away from the culinary scene, Hermes and Starship Technologies have successfully tested robots similar to the CarriRo in London. JD.com has recently added similar ‘bots to its army of couriers in China.