With Christmas a few weeks away, many Americans are busy preparing lists of what to give friends or loved ones for the holiday.
This holiday season, people will be able to buy a cargo carrying robot that follows them around like a dog. But it is unclear if the device will be a popular gift.
Large companies like Amazon, FedEx and Ford have already been experimenting with sending delivery robots to homes across the United States.
Now an Italian company is offering robots directly to consumers. The company, Piaggio, is best known as the manufacturer of the Vespa scooter.
The new robot, called the Gita, weighs about 23 kilograms and costs $3,250. The name Gita comes from the Italian word for a short, pleasurable trip.
The robot's creators had short trips in mind when they designed it. The Gita is a "hands-free carrier" that can hold fruits, vegetables and other objects as it follows its owner down the street.
The Gita does not require use of a telephone or wireless device; it also does not use GPS technology or facial recognition.
"It basically just locks onto you and tracks you," said Jeffrey Schnapp. He is a co-founder of Piaggio Fast Forward.
Jeffrey Schnapp说：“它基本上只是锁定您并跟踪您。” 他是Piaggio Fast Forward的共同创始人。
How much should a robot cost?
Whether the device will be a success is not yet clear. Tech industry experts are already saying the Gita will fail unless the company finds a more useful purpose. Examples include carrying tools around hospitals, factory floors or places where products are stored.
J.P. Gownder follows technology for the market research company Forrester. He says the Gita could be priced too high.
"That's a lot of money for what is in effect just a cargo-carrying robot that's going to carry your groceries," he said.
该设备是否会成功尚不清楚。 科技行业专家已经在说，除非公司找到更有用的目的，否则Gita将会失败。 例如，在医院，工厂车间或存储产品的地方携带工具。
J.P. Gownder跟随市场研究公司Forrester的技术。 他说，Gita的价格可能太高。
Startup companies like Starship Technologies have a different business plan for their own delivery robots. Starship charges users as little as $1.99 if they order one of its rovers to bring coffee or a meal.
So far, the best places to find the company's six wheelers are U.S. colleges: The University of Houston and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for example. The robots can carry up to 9 kilograms.
Sadie Garcia is a student at the University of Houston. "I love them. I think they're so cute," she said, as one of the machines arrived carrying a sandwich for her. Garcia said she was so cold she did not want to leave her room.
像Starship Technologies这样的新兴公司对于自己的送货机器人有不同的商业计划。 如果用户订购其中一辆漫游者带来的咖啡或餐食，Starship的收费低至1.99美元。
Sadie Garcia是休斯顿大学的学生。 她说：“我爱他们，我认为它们是如此可爱。”当其中一台机器为她运送三明治时，她说， 加西亚说她太冷了，她不想离开她的房间。
Starship co-founder Ahti Heinla said his company once thought about selling the machines directly to consumers. But the business dropped the idea after discovering it would have to sell them for more than $3,000 each.
Amazon is experimenting with a similar-looking machine that transports retail goods to a few U.S. neighborhoods. FedEx is testing its own delivery rover vehicle in partnership with other businesses, such as Pizza Hut, Walmart, Target and Walgreens.
So far, none are as far along as Starship, which has hundreds of its machines already in service.
Starship联合创始人Ahti Heinla表示，他的公司曾经考虑过将机器直接出售给消费者。 但是，该公司在发现必须以每套3,000美元以上的价格出售它们之后，放弃了这个想法。
Ground-based or Aerial Deliveries?
While Forrester's Gownder expressed concerns about the Gita, he is more hopeful about delivery robots such as the Starship. He thinks their autonomy will help save labor costs.
Gownder said the important question is whether ground-based rovers or aerial delivery drones will be more successful.
The wheeled cargo robots currently in use have limitations.
And anyone who is simply looking to pull home products without heavy lifting can find durablewagons for less than $100.
Words in This Story：
cargo- n.goods carried on a ship, aircraft, or vehicle
delivery– n.the act of transporting and releasing something
consumer– n.someone or something that uses goods
lock– v.to make a secure connection
track – v.to follow
cute– adj.having a pleasing appearance
autonomy– n.self-directing freedom
durable- adj.staying strong and in good condition over a long period of time
wagon– n.a four-wheeled vehicle for transporting goods
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