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Here come the robots!

Last November, I learned that robotic food delivery had already arrived at UW-Madison. Neat idea -- how does it work? Here's an article and also a short video that explains:

2:13 video

I had heard about companies looking into drones and self-driving cars for delivery, but I hadn't realized that these little sidewalk delivery robots existed.  This got me to wondering... could libraries use this technology?

A little bit of searching led me to a couple of pilot projects where libraries are using these small delivery robots to deliver books,

one where a robot isn't delivering books to people but is instead is delivering the people to the books,  

...and a library that is planning a robotic/automated book retrieval system:

It will be a while, I think, before these sorts of technologies become widely used. Pros for the small sidewalk delivery robots include less pollution and less congestion on the roadways, and cons include potential pedestrian safety issues and sidewalk congestion. Food delivery robots in a college town or big city are not welcomed everywhere or without certain restrictions right now. The Madison Transportation Policy and Planning Board has recommended a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the use of delivery robots everywhere in the city except for UW-Madison’s campus in an effort "to prevent other companies from bringing new robots to Madison and clogging up city sidewalks." San Francisco established an Office of Emerging Technology to oversee new technologies that operate in public spaces like sidewalks and had already put strict guidelines in place to cover things like insurance, headlights, warning noises, and more.

What do you think about delivery robots? Looking forward to the day where your books/food/groceries can be delivered to you by robot, drone, or self-driving car --- or do you worry about safety, congestion, or other issues?


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Sure, a robot can deliver your books for you, but where's the love?

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