Korean Robotics Company Yujin Developing Food Delivery Robot
Food delivery robot created by South Korean robotics firm Yujin Robot.
Photo: Yujin Robot

Robots are good for all kinds of things, but almost all of those things (with a few exceptions) are not things that are intended to make the lives of lazy humans (on an individual basis) better. Like, immediately better. As in, "bring me a sandwich" better.

Yujin Robot, perhaps best known for (if you live in Asia) vacuums or (if you live in ROS) Turtlebot 2, is now testing out a food delivery robot that's safe enough, and affordable enough, to operate autonomously in care facilities.

Here's the rather unfulfilling video, at least for people who like seeing robots, you know, actually do stuff:

The GoCart system is clever enough to control a team of robots, autonomously sorting out which needs to go where, and when. It's probably most efficient, as the video points out, during fixed mealtimes where it can work out cooperative scheduling in advance, but by far the most exciting feature is the ability to order snacks on your smartphone. This is a unique capability that should really be added to the comparison chart below:

We're obviously missing a few details here, like detailed tech specs (although it looks like there's some sort of laser down there along with sonar and a Kinect-ish thing) as well as what's arguably most important, which is whether GoCart really is affordable for small facilities. The suggestion is that it solves the "robots are too expensive" problem, but calling something affordable without providing even a suggestion of a price never fails to make us suspicious. It's also not quite clear from the information available how much infrastructure is required to get one or more GoCarts up and running.

Now, while GoCart certainly isn't competition for Savioke's SaviOne/Botlr, it's cool to see that there are several of these relatively "affordable" delivery robots out on the market with the ability to wander around on their own in semi-structured environments amongst humans that may not be entirely comfortable with them. Technology has progressed far enough to make this possible, but more importantly, confidence in the technology has progressed far enough to make this possible, too.

GoCart will start testing this October in a retirement community somewhere in the northeastern United States, and a facility in southern Sweden.

[ Yujin GoCart ]

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
Blue

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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