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Self-driving robots deliver food to your door after founders of Skype launch new tech company

Self-driving robots deliver food to your door after founders of Skype launch new tech company

The robots are out in Greenwich, London, taking groceries to people in under 30 minutes

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  • 13:55, 29 MAR 2016
  • Updated 10:49, 30 MAR 2016

These six-wheeled robots could be arriving at your door soon as deliveries start across London.

The self-driving machine is packed with nine cameras, GPS and is monitored by real people who can immediately step in and take remote control.

They can carry two full grocery bags and will be with you in 30 minutes or less, and with delivery costing under a £1, this could be a real winner.

Launched by Starship Technologies, a company set up by the co-founders of Skype, they have been riding around parts of Greenwich as part of a trial.

But if you think you could just grab it and run off with the goods inside, you might want to think twice.

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«It’s quite bulky and not easy to pick up, plus it has nine cameras and GPS,» a spokeswoman told Mirror Online.

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«If someone tried to steal it, we would have their picture and the police could track them with the GPS.»

The robots ride on the pavement and are designed to detect people and other obstacles, adjusting their speed, stopping at roads, and as our footage shows they are courteous too.

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Ahti Heinla, a Skype co-founder and CEO at Starship Technologies said: «Our vision revolves around three zeroes – zero cost, zero waiting time and zero environmental impact.

«We want to do to local deliveries what Skype did to telecommunications.»

Throughout the next six months, the robots will be visiting towns and cities across the UK, before trials start in the USA too.

Ahti added: “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

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The robot has been in development for almost two years, and we’ve experienced unprecedented levels of interest and goodwill – so it’s great to now be taking the first step to rolling our little robot out for real.

«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.”

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Yole forecasts a rapid growth of the market for 3D cameras by 2020.

The report “3D Imaging and Sensing of the Yole Développement group from 2017 forecasts a growth of the market by a factor of seven by 2022. This will particularly affect the consumer market. 3D technology is already very present on trade fairs such as CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and the Mobile World Congress. A focus is on virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). This market development is favoured by the growing availability of low-cost solutions: it is forecast that the trend will extend to laptops and tablets, but drones and robots will be present on the consumer market as well due to falling prices.

Many different technologies are used in the area of 3D. According to Yole Développement, the time of flight technology (ToF) and structured light as well as stereo vision have the biggest potential. Among these three, ToF is seen as the winner on the consumer market. The O3D sensor from ifm also uses this technology: the area to be detected is illuminated with invisible infrared light. The sensor receives the reflected light and measures the phase shift between the transmitted and received signal. This allows to precisely determine the time-of-flight of the light and thus the distance to the object.

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