- 14 Smart Clothes and Accessories to Give Your Wardrobe the Tech Treatment
- Spacex Sets Sights on Los Angeles for Its Big Falcon Rocket Factory
- Antarctic Research Project Will Determine If a Huge Glacier Will Soon Break Off
- Chinese Surveillance Is Literally Getting in Workers’ Heads
- Cheap Hydrogen Fuel Was A Failed Promise. But Its Time May Have Arrived.
- Blue Origin Is Testing Reusable Rockets. Here’s Why You Rarely See Them.
- Crypto Mining for Charity: Your Processing Power Could Save the World
- To Power Villages And Oil Rigs, Russia Sent A Nuclear Reactor On A “Tsunami-Proof” Barge
- Australia Has Big Plans to Save the Great Barrier Reef. But It Can’t Do It Alone.
- Tiny Robots Will Deliver Your Lunch, Because We Hate Human Interaction
Posted: 01 May 2018 09:00 AM PDT
Google Glass may have found its way into the ash heap of history, but other smart fashion choices still have the chance to stand the test of time. And that opportunity isn’t just limited to wearable accessories – it includes connected clothing, too. As smart clothing becomes more fashionable, it also becomes increasingly popular. In fact, by 2020 it’s expected to be a $1 billion industry.
But don’t worry. You won’t have to wait that long to incorporate quality tech into your daily fashion. Here’s some options you can order right now.
1. Vue Smart Sunglasses & Glasses
One of the reasons Google Glass never really got off the ground was that it wasn’t discreet. Wearing a strange contraption on your face doesn’t exactly scream “fashion.” That’s not a problem with Vue glasses, though. These attractive spectacles come in styles that mimic the look of regular glasses and sunglasses. With Vue glasses, you can control your music, answer calls, and monitor your health. There’s even a “find my glasses” feature. Priceless.
Vue smart glasses, $249, Backerkit
2. Ministry of Supply Smart Jacket
The Ministry of Supply smart jacket is your own personal thermostat. It uses artificial intelligence to learn your preferences, and automatically heats to your optimal temperature. The jacket is voice or app-controlled, durable, and can handle any weather conditions. It’s even available as a vest.
3. Hexoskin Smart
Hexoskin Smart is a top made for both men and women that monitors your biometrics, including your heart rate, respiratory system, sleep, and more. The wearer gets an analysis of the calories burned, sleep quality, and more. It fits close to the body, so it can be worn under other layers.
Hexoskin Smart, $169, Hexoskin
4. Ministry of Supply Smart Shirt
This item of clothing isn’t “smart” in the traditional sense, but it has utilized technology in interesting ways. The Ministry of Supply Aero dress shirt was developed to be wrinkle-free, sweatproof, and flexible. It’s also stain resistant. This is one of those rare dress shirts you can throw on your bedroom floor and just pick it up and wear it to work later.
Aero Dress Shirt, $115, Ministry of Supply
5. Athos Core
The Athos Core is similar to the Hexoskin, but it’s more complex and meant specifically for working out and playing sports. Sensors in the Core track your muscles as they move, and also track your heart rate and breathing. All of that information is fed to an Athos app that is easy to use. If you’re really working hard physically, you might want to try the Core.
Athos Core, $696, Athos
6. Sensoria Running Socks
Sensoria running socks will put your step counter to shame. Because the socks are right on your feet, they deliver perfect step counts. They also tell you how fast you were walking or running, how many calories you’re burning, and more. If you’re someone who likes to do cardio, then you’ll probably want these.
Sensoria running socks, $199, Sensoria
7. LifeBEAM Smart Hat
The LifeBEAM smart hat is another great way to monitor steps, heart rate, and more. Perhaps, best of all, it’ll hide your hat hair. It connects wirelessly using Bluetooth, and it’s easy to use. It can withstand practically any weather, so it’s not going to get ruined if it starts raining.
LifeBEAM smart hat, $99, 2XU
8. SolePower Smart Boots
At first, the SolePower smart boots might remind you of the light-up shoes from your childhood. But they do so much more. The boots have built in GPS, wifi, motion sensors, and – of course – lighting. They’re even charged by your footsteps. You can also hook your phone up to them if it’s running low on battery.
SolePower smart boots, SolePower
9. OMsignal Sports Bra
The OMsignal sports bra is a smart sports bra. According to the company’s site, the bra “captures medical-grade biometric data paired with revolutionary AI algorithms that will inevitably change the course of human health.” This data includes breathing patterns, sleeping habits, and heart rate. It comes in many attractive designs, some with bright colors, and there are even options for men.
OMsignal sports bra, OMsignal
10. Under Armour HOVR Phantom Connected Shoes
If you’re looking for some high-quality shoes that are smarter than the average kicks, check out the Under Armour HOVR Phantoms. Besides being comfortable, these shoes can track your steps and speed – all while you’re walking or running. That information gets sent to the Under Armour app on your phone.
Under Armour HOVR Phantom, $130, Under Armour
11. Skiin Smart Underwear
Made for men and women, Skiin underwear can track your sleep, your breathing, and heart rate all from the waistband. The company makes boxer-briefs for men, and classic underwear for women. Ever wanted underwear that could control your home? Skiin is for you. Adjust your thermostat automatically based on body-temperature, or your lights based on mood.
Skiin underwear, $199, Skiin
12. Welt Belt
We had to include a belt, and the Welt belt is a great find. It can track your steps, how long you’ve stayed seated during the day and more. It looks nice, with a classic black leather style, and it connects to an app that will give you all the information you could want. You can even track your meals with it, so hopefully it’ll help you get a smaller belt hole if you want to lose weight.
Welt belt, $140, Welt
13. Project Jacquard Jackets & Jeans
Project Jacquard is a collaboration between Levi’s and Google. It’s a touch-sensitive jean fabric that will be used for regular jeans and is currently used in its attractive jean jacket. By touching certain spots on the wrist of the jacket, you can control your smart phone while you’re listening to music or making calls. There’s no evidence of buttons or any other controls on the jacket, which makes it look like any other well-made jean jacket.
Project Jacquard, $350, Levi’s
14. Ghostek NRGcamper Backpack
TThis Ghostek hiking pack charges your devices, with the help of a solar panel. It has a whistle and it’s water resistant. There are smaller versions, but if you’re going camping for a while, you won’t have any trouble with space in this model. It has pretty much everything you could ask for in a camping backpack, and it’s really sturdy.
Ghostek backpack, $229.95, Amazon
Disclosure: Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with Ministry of Supply. They help us keep the lights on, and Futurism may receive a commission from sales. This post does not reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.
The post 14 Smart Clothes and Accessories to Give Your Wardrobe the Tech Treatment appeared first on Futurism.
Posted: 01 May 2018 08:43 AM PDT
SpaceX’s massive, Mars-bound rocket will be built in California, tested in Texas, and launched in Florida.
The post Spacex Sets Sights on Los Angeles for Its Big Falcon Rocket Factory appeared first on Futurism.
Posted: 30 Apr 2018 03:22 PM PDT
At the southwestern corner of Antarctic continent, there’s a river of ice dubbed the “most dangerous glacier in the world.” On Monday, American and British scientists officially launched a venture to investigate Thwaites Glacier. Their goal: to figure out whether it’s headed for a catastrophic collapse in the near future.
We already know Thwaites Glacier is melting at a rate of about 40 centimeters per year, according to the BBC. That alone has caused about 4 percent of the world’s sea level rise we’ve seen in the past 25 years.
As if that weren’t startling enough, scientists are worried Thwaites is about to make a much bigger splash: if ocean waters have infiltrated far enough beneath this glacier, its Florida-sized-mass could begin sliding off land and into the ocean.
If that happens, estimates (that, granted, range widely) suggest that could raise global sea levels by between 2 and 10 feet.
"For global sea-level change in the next century, this Thwaites glacier is almost the entire story," New York University geoscientist David Holland told The Washington Post. Holland, along with his collaborator from the British Antarctic Survey, are the leaders of one of six field missions that make up the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC).
The project is the largest scientific Antarctic collaboration seen in decades, involving over 100 scientists from all over the world, with an estimated final cost of over $55 million. It will include measures of the rates that ice volume and ice mass are changing, and rely heavily on remote submersibles to investigate just how much salt water has moved beneath the glacier.
The researchers will be accompanied by an all-star cast of non-humans. Seals will be fitted with sensors that monitor the temperature of the water through which they swim, according to the BBC. Also in the mix: the submarine known as Boaty McBoatface.
According to The Guardian, current estimates of sea level rise by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change already forecast an average rise between 9.8 and 15.7 inches, if we maintained current greenhouse gas emissions — without factoring in the collapse of Antarctic glaciers.
Probing Thwaites’ condition, then, is clearly of global importance. It’s fitting that a global team will take it on.
The post Antarctic Research Project Will Determine If a Huge Glacier Will Soon Break Off appeared first on Futurism.
Posted: 30 Apr 2018 02:56 PM PDT
Feel like your boss is a bit of a micromanager, always looking over your shoulder? Be grateful that they’re not peering into your brain.
That’s now the case for a number of workers in China, the nation competing for the global superlative of Most Dystopian.
An “emotional surveillance” system is allowing supervisors to scrutinize employees’ brainwaves for signs of distress, according to a report from the South China Morning Post (SCMP). The technology is the result of a government-backed project.
Here’s how it works. Lightweight sensors embedded in workers’ hats or helmets wirelessly transmit the wearer’s brainwave data to a computer — it probably works a bit like an electroencephalogram (EEG), as MIT Tech Review notes. Then, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms scan the data, looking for outliers that could indicate anxiety or rage.
Some organizations use the sensors during routine work, while others embed them in virtual reality (VR) headsets to monitor workers’ emotions during training exercises.
We don’t know exactly how many workers have been subjected to this surveillance system, but the SCMP article does say the technology is being deployed “on an unprecedented scale” in China.
At least a dozen Chinese factories and businesses are using the emotional surveillance system to monitor workers, according to the SCMP report. Manufacturing company Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric uses it to keep tabs on production line workers, while State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power monitors workers as they help the company provide power to the Zhejiang province. The nation’s military, public transportation companies, and various state-owned businesses use it, too.
The idea is that the system gives companies an opportunity to boost workers’ morale before emotional distress can cause a problem, not after.
"When the system issues a warning, the manager asks the worker to take a day off or move to a less critical post,” Jin Jia, associate professor at Ningbo University, home to one of the project’s main research centers, told the SCMP. “Some jobs require high concentration. There is no room for a mistake."
Several companies told the SCMP that using the emotional surveillance system has been a financial boon. One claimed a 2 billion yuan ($315 million) increase in revenue since 2014, thanks in part to the system; another claimed a 140 million yuan ($22 million) increase over the past two years.
If it’s creeping you out to think of your boss being able to read your mood changes, you should remember it’s not new or uncommon for employers to monitor workers in the interest of increasing profits. An estimated 80 percent of major U.S. companies keep tabs on workers’ email, internet, or phone usage. But looking at workers’ brainwaves is, admittedly, more invasive than making sure employees aren’t wasting company time on Reddit.
And the Chinese are, arguably, among the most surveilled people on Earth. The government equips lots of cameras with facial recognition, monitors citizens’ income and their social activity to determine their social credit score. A lower score can affect a person’s job opportunities, travel options, and much more.
Recently, Chinese citizens reiterated their stance that, yes, they do care about privacy, despite how much of it has been consistently eroded. Workers themselves are concerned about the intrusive nature of the tech, though they seem to have eventually acquiesced. Jia told the SCMP: “They thought we could read their mind. This caused some discomfort and resistance in the beginning. After a while they got used to the device.”
It’s not clear whether companies will share the data garnered from this emotional surveillance. But since the technology was created by the government, it’s not a ridiculous idea.
The post Chinese Surveillance Is Literally Getting in Workers’ Heads appeared first on Futurism.
Posted: 30 Apr 2018 01:53 PM PDT
Hydrogen fuel cells were supposed to be the next big thing. Their promise peaked during the gas crisis of the 1970s as a clean energy source to power cars and electric plants, hydrogen fuel never truly took off. It was simply too expensive to make the stuff. As a result, hydrogen fuel has been mostly limited to labs, where engineers keep trying to use it to make better vehicles (a handful of vehicles and backup generators are hydrogen-powered, but they’re not exactly widespread).
But now we may have a way to drive that cost down. And that could finally make hydrogen fuel a viable, widespread source of clean energy.
Ammonia, a hydrogen-rich molecule, has recently surfaced as a source of the molecular hydrogen needed to generate electricity. Now, researchers have figured out how to extract that fuel and generate power without creating usual pollutants that come from using ammonia.
A quick chemistry lesson: Reacting hydrogen with oxygen gives rise to electricity. Its byproduct is only water, not those nasty greenhouse gases that come from burning oil or coal. But that hydrogen still needs to come from somewhere. A prime candidate: ammonia, an easy-to-store molecule made of three hydrogen atoms stuck to one atom of nitrogen.
Ammonia never took off in the past because ammonia only combusts at super high temperatures, making its hydrogen inaccessible in the normal world. Plus, chemical reactions created a byproduct of nitrogen oxides, an air pollutant that can lead to lung infections. So it didn’t make sense to use ammonia as fuel for hydrogen-powered vehicles — it would take so much more energy to get the hydrogen out that it wouldn’t be worth powering your car (though fossil fuels also emit nitrogen oxides when they burn).
In a recent breakthrough, researchers found that introducing a new chemical — a crystal containing copper, silicon, and other metals — both made ammonia combust at lower temperatures (so the fuel was more efficient) and eliminated nitrogen oxide pollution. The only byproduct: di-nitrogen, the harmless gas that makes up most of Earth's atmosphere.
In effect, they researchers figured out how to use ammonia as a cheap, clean source of hydrogen that could be pretty darn useful. As of 2016, transportation made up over a quarter of American greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. One of the biggest potential uses for hydrogen power is emission-free vehicles. That’s the goal of much of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s hydrogen power research, perhaps because cutting greenhouse gas emissions from our cars, buses, and trucks would make a huge dent in our overall emissions.
The next step: scaling up. This is early research, done in a lab. For this research to turn into actually usable fuel (and technology that uses it), researchers will have to test it in more applicable settings, and make sure the chemical reaction can produce a meaningful amount of hydrogen. Once that happens, it may only be a matter of time till, at long last, hydrogen takes its long-awaited place as a source of clean energy.
The post Cheap Hydrogen Fuel Was A Failed Promise. But Its Time May Have Arrived. appeared first on Futurism.
Posted: 30 Apr 2018 01:12 PM PDT
On Sunday, April 29, space travel company Blue Origin launched a test of the New Shepard reusable rocket and the space capsule that the company hopes will one day transport tourists to the edge of space.
It was the eighth such test of this rocket design, and the second for this particular rocket. Yet unlike the PR-heavy, live-streamed fanfare of SpaceX launches, this is also only the second time Blue Origin has made one of their tests available to the public in real time.
Why so secretive, Blue Origin?
No one at Blue Origin — no officials, nor its founder Jeff Bezos — has addressed why Blue Origin’s development process is so darn quiet. Based on the interviews they have given, however, it seems that Bezos and Blue Origin are more focused on developing their product than joining the hype of this second “space race.”
“Space is a big place. It’s not a zero-sum market,” Caitlin O’Keefe Dietrich, Blue Origin’s Head of Public Relations, told Engadget when asked whether the company felt any pressure to speed up testing based on the achievements of competitors like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. “Our philosophy is to use an incremental, step-by-step approach for our long-term space technology development programs. And this approach has yielded us a lot of progress thus far,” Dietrich added.
Rough translation: Blue Origin doesn’t give a damn about SpaceX’s media circus. It’s not trying to outdo competitors with each subsequent project — the company is working on just two rockets (New Shepard and New Glenn) with hopes to launch a manned flight before the end of 2018. Blue Origin is worrying about Blue Origin. That’s it.
It’s a bit too early to tell whether Blue Origin’s strategy is any better than SpaceX’s, or vice versa. Competition is a powerful force for innovation. But with the commercial space industry quickly growing (and SpaceX threatening to monopolize it), it’s easy enough to keep innovating in an effort to one-up the competition, losing sight of the main goal in the process.
One way to judge who wins? Whoever sends humans farther than they’ve ever gone. In that sense, the companies are striving for the same goal in the long term, and those that keep their eyes on the prize might fare best. In her interview with Engadget, Blue Origin’s Dietrich said that the company’s vision of millions of people living and working in space meant that they “are applauding all launch operators that are building new and more capable systems.”
Still, in the short term, the companies are still hungry to grow. Blue Origin is currently competing for a contract to develop a new orbital-class rocket for the U.S. Air Force. It’s also unlikely that Blue Origin will keep their process this quiet forever. After all, if the company wants people to purchase a ride on their forthcoming low-orbit flights, it’s going to have to get them excited to fork over the cash.
The post Blue Origin Is Testing Reusable Rockets. Here’s Why You Rarely See Them. appeared first on Futurism.
Posted: 30 Apr 2018 12:07 PM PDT
Want a new way to improve the lives of children across the globe? Just do what you’re probably doing right now: browsing the internet.
The Australian branch of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) just launched The HopePage. Open the site in your browser, and it’ll use your computer’s processing power to mine the cryptocurrency monero. Any mined coin is automatically donated to UNICEF Australia, which spends it on clean water, food, and vaccines for vulnerable children.
This isn’t the first time UNICEF has dabbled in crypto mining to raise funds. In February, the organization launched its Game Chaingers project, which sought to raise funds for children in Syria by targeting computer gamers.
Game Chaingers fell short of its fundraising goal, but it also required users to download mining software. The HopePage requires users to do even less, thanks to Coinhive's AuthedMine tool. This is a version of the same mining tool that landed Coinhive in hot water back in October because sites were using it without visitors’ permission, but this tool solves the problem by allowing to opt in.
Tony Andres Tang, UNICEF Australia’s digital engagement and content manager, was sure to make the distinction between The HopePage and these past Coinhive exploits. “We are transparent in the fact we are borrowing a computers’ processing power, and provide the ability to choose how much power is donated,” Tang said in an interview with iTnews. “The HopePage is entirely user-initiated, and they have the ultimate power to decide whether to participate or not.”
Other organizations are turning to crypto mining to bankroll their humanitarian efforts. In October, creative developer/designer Mike Bodge built Donate Your Tab, a site that lets users choose a cause from a dropdown menu and then mine monero to support it. A number of other sites, including The Charity Mine, Mining For Humanity, and Mining for Charity, seem to have started to mine crypto for charity, only to eventually abandon it.
Whenever an internet user comes across a site that mines crypto for charity, it can be hard to tell whether or not that particular site is up to anything sketchy. Indeed, the crypto world has no shortage of scams; it’s proven to be a great place for bad actors to prey upon people’s good intentions for their own benefit. In January, Reddit users busted a fake charity supposedly collecting crypto donations to feed starving Venezuelans; back in 2016, scammers pocketed bitcoin donations intended for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
People actively donated crypto to those “charities,” and scammers might assume its even easier to dupe people into donating via a more passive mining operation.
But UNICEF is a real organization with a solid reputation, so The HopePage is probably the real deal. If the organization is able to raise funds through this project, perhaps other legitimate charity organizations will follow suit.
That’s good news all around. Who wouldn’t want to make the world a better place while admiring cute animal photos on the internet? Answer: no one.
The post Crypto Mining for Charity: Your Processing Power Could Save the World appeared first on Futurism.
Posted: 30 Apr 2018 11:47 AM PDT
If the world is going to end, why not have it be for a ridiculous, insane reason?
Like, say, building nuclear power plants on top of a barge and sending it floating up to the Arctic?
Well, that one’s real. If you wanted to panic now, we wouldn’t blame you.
On Saturday, Russia launched Akademik Lomonosov, the world's first floating nuclear power plant, out of the St. Petersburg shipyard. It's currently being towed to Murmansk, a port town in northwest Russia, where it will be loaded up with fuel; its destination is a town in the Arctic Circle called Pevek, where it will begin generating power in the Summer of 2019, according to The Independent.
The power plant has no propulsion of its own, but is being towed up North to avoid the steep cost of shipping it by land piece by piece to remote areas. Once it’s there, it will provide electricity to a town of 100,000 people. The Lomonosov will also power oil and gas mining rigs — now that global warming has opened up new shipping routes and access to fossil fuels in what used to be impassable parts of the Arctic, Russia is deploying more resources to take advantage.
Once it arrives, the reactor will replace the Bilibino nuclear power plant and Chaunskaya coal power plant, which were built in 1974 and 1961, respectively. Nuclear power, though cleaner and arguably a better option for our warming planet than the coal plan that Lomonosov will replace, is still a risky business. And put that on a boat, which, unlike a nuclear submarine, is exposed to the weather conditions of the Arctic? It feels risky to say the least. Critics have dubbed the project "floating Chernobyl" and "nuclear Titanic."
Rosatom, the government-owned Russian energy company that developed the Lomonosov, released a statement saying that the floating reactor will be "invincible" to tsunamis and other natural disasters, and that it has met all the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The company argues that they have rendered Lomonosov harmless to the environment.
Yet for some reason activist groups, as well as the governments of Norway and Sweden haven't been reassured that a big-ass, freely-floating nuclear reactor will be safe. The same goes for the oil mining operations, which have a tendency to leak, polluting the delicate (and already threatened) Arctic ecosystem.
The stakes are high, and surely Rosatom has every incentive to get this right — should something go wrong, years of expensive planning and testing go down the toilet, along with any fossil fuel mining operations that the plant would have powered. Oh and, you know, the widespread devastation that would result from a nuclear accident in the already-threatened Arctic ecosystem, and everywhere else the irradiated ocean water may travel.
Fingers crossed everything goes the way Rosatom says it will, and not the way an apocalyptic film might.
The post To Power Villages And Oil Rigs, Russia Sent A Nuclear Reactor On A "Tsunami-Proof" Barge appeared first on Futurism.
Posted: 30 Apr 2018 11:02 AM PDT
The Great Barrier Reef may not have much time left, but Australia doesn’t plan to let one of the world’s natural wonders die out so easily. The Australian government is investing over 500 million Austrian dollars (more than US $376 million) into protecting the Great Barrier Reef. Without global action on climate change, however, it won’t do much good.
According to Australia’s SBS News, the new investments will go towards scientific research, decreasing the populations of coral-munching crown-of-thorns starfish, and improving water quality, including reducing sediment run-off from farms (which harms reefs both by directly landing on them, and by introducing chemical pollution).
There’s no question these efforts will improve the health of this massive reef. But the fact remains that the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef? Ocean waters overall are growing too warm — and increasingly too acidic — for coral to survive.
Earlier this month, research published in Nature showed that underwater “heat waves” killed a third of corals on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016, part of the widespread annihilation of corals that took place between 2014 and 2017. These coral deaths, on the GBR and elsewhere, happened because warm waters stressed corals so much that they ejected the photosynthetic algae that they need to survive, leading to a pure white color — a process called bleaching.
Scientists predict that oceans will get even warmer, so bleaching events like these will likely become more common. Corals are also threatened by the much more insidious problem of ocean acidification — dissolved carbon dioxide makes water more acidic, which dissolve coral skeletons and stress corals, causing bleaching. Some scientists have gone so far as to predict that corals are slated for extinction by the end of the century.
It’s true that corals’ health is more at risk if they are already stressed by bad water quality and predators, so Australia’s current efforts aren’t entirely pointless.
But climate change is still the root of the problem. As scientists have pointed out before, if we don’t reduce global carbon dioxide levels and curb ocean warming, these efforts will be pointless in the long run.
That means that the GBR’s fate is tied into the actions of every nation, not just those of its parent country (though, frankly, it would help if Australia itself stopped subsidizing coal-fired power plants, which are big contributors to climate change). While nearly every country on earth has pledged to lower global greenhouse gas emissions by signing the Paris Agreement, we have a ways to go towards meeting the agreement’s goals.
According to researchers, much of the damage that the Great Barrier Reef has already suffered is irreversible. That means we’re going to need to act fast to save what’s left, or these massive coral wonders may go the way of the dodo bird.
The post Australia Has Big Plans to Save the Great Barrier Reef. But It Can’t Do It Alone. appeared first on Futurism.
Posted: 30 Apr 2018 10:41 AM PDT
Our lives are filled with other humans. We interact with them constantly — at work, at home, at stores where we buy what we need to sustain ourselves, even the delivery people we have digitally summoned to bring us goods when we don’t want to face the world. Sure, we need community to survive or whatever, but sometimes you just want to take a break from other humans.
San Francisco-based Starship Technologies wants to remove any human interaction, at least from the process of buying lunch. The company is expanding its fleet of autonomous robots to include tiny robots that deliver your lunch for you, Wired reports. The company is ready to start offering the service to other companies as well after testing it at a California-based company campus.
The little Starship troopers are about the size of a middle-aged Saint Bernard, have six little wheels, and move at a maximum speed of 4 miles per hour (6.4 km/h).
To use the bots, users enter their order into an app. The restaurant making the food puts it inside the little robot, which makes its way across campus. The bots only stay outside, so users have to come to the entrance of a building, where they unlock the robot’s container by entering a unique code. Delivery usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes.
Since January, the little robots have been serving a whole campus of hungry workers at the Silicon Valley-based software company Intuit, and the company is planning to deploy more than 1,000 robots to colleges and workplaces by the end of the year. Starship calls this the first "major commercial rollout" of its kind.
It’s easy to see why this may be popular with users — no human interaction at all, even if they still have to get up and go to the door to retrieve their sustenance. On-demand delivery startups such as Seamless and Uber Eats have turned the food delivery industry into a booming market. Anyone with a bike or a Honda Civic can make a few bucks on the side by delivering food.
And for people with mobility issues, services like these could be a godsend. "It didn't take long after injuring my foot to fully appreciate the capabilities of Starship's campus delivery," says Srivathsan Canchi, a Product Lead at Intuit, in the press release. "I love that I was able to get my coffee delivered to my doorstep!
But not everyone has been so enthusiastic about the bots’ predecessors. Sidewalk-based delivery robots have been a controversial topic for cities like San Francisco in the past. They are often unwieldy, take up a large portion of a busy sidewalk, or simply get stuck. Late last year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors ruled that robots weren’t allowed to make actual deliveries, after complaints filed by pedestrian safety advocacy groups. In other places, such as Washington D.C., Virginia, and Idaho, sidewalk robots are being legalized.
Human couriers, whether they’re on a bike or in a car, are already being replaced by robots, and if Starship’s efforts are any indication, in-person deliveries are about to become a lot more rare, though they could arguably better serve people with mobility issues because the human could bring the goods right to them. And those users will almost certainly be in the minority.
Our sidewalks are already crowded. Fitting in a few more six-wheeled friends is pretty much guaranteed to become a sore point for many city-dwellers. For the average person looking for a break from human interaction, maybe you’d be better off just renting a cabin in the woods for a little while.
The post Tiny Robots Will Deliver Your Lunch, Because We Hate Human Interaction appeared first on Futurism.
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