Technology: Autonomous food delivery robots that are just knee-high and travel on the sidewalk on college campuses are branded a menace for disabled people - Public transport seizes self-propelled vehicles - PressFrom - US
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Technology Autonomous food delivery robots that are just knee-high and travel on the sidewalk on college campuses are branded a menace for disabled people

13:10  21 november  2019
13:10  21 november  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Autonomous food delivery robots that are just knee - high and travel on the sidewalk on college campuses are branded a menace for disabled people . PhD student Emily Ackerman penned an op-ed slamming Starship Technologies' self-driving delivery robots for not being disability-friendly.

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People with disabilities are voicing their complaints over a series of food delivery robots starting to roll out on college campuses across America.

The self-driving wheeled robots, engineered by Starship Technologies, are a part of a new autonomous local delivery service designed to transport food and packages.

However, the knee-high bots have become a menace for some people with disabilities, with one woman saying she had a life-threatening encounter with the AI technology.

Emily Ackerman, a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh and disability rights activist, says she was trying to cross a street in her power wheelchair but couldn't make it over the curb due to a motionless Starship Technologies robot stationed at the end of the crosswalk.

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The food delivery robot take-over continues at yet another college campus . Starship Technologies has a fleet of 25 mini robots descending upon the George Mason University campus , in Fairfax, Virginia, on Tuesday.

'I found myself sitting in the street as the traffic light turned green, blocked by a non-sentient being incapable of understanding the consequences of its actions,' Ackerman revealed in an op-ed for CityLab.

'I managed to squeeze myself up on the sidewalk in a panic, climbing the curb outside the curb cut in fear of staying in the street any longer—a move that causes a painful jolt and could leave me stuck halfway up if I’m not careful,' she added.

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My Fight With a Sidewalk Robot . A life-threatening encounter with AI technology convinced me that I managed to squeeze myself up on the sidewalk in a panic, climbing the curb outside the curb cut in In fact, the disabled community as a whole could greatly benefit from a delivery service for food or

Ackman said the 'frustrating face-off' on the narrow sidewalk was 'dangerous and dehumanizing'.

She took to Twitter to vent about the experience and was shocked by a flood of messages expressing support and similar concerns.

'Of course you guys (people) are more important than these robots. A City shouldn’t have them at all unless they solve this problem. I’m sorry you got "stuck" It must have been very frustrating,' one Twitter user said.

'As soon as I saw them, I thought to myself, what a nightmare for accessibility,' another echoed.

Ackerman explained that the robot didn't move when she was crossing the street because it sensed it didn't have a clear path to roll forward.

'The problem is that they wait to cross the street *in the curb cut* which are often not much wider than 1 wheelchair. when a group of people crosses the street toward it, it doesn't leave the sidewalk because it doesn't sense a clear path to the other side,' she said.

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Delivery robots : a revolutionary step or sidewalk -clogging nightmare? For some reason people just don’t want to wait – they want to go straight to work and avoid the queue in the early Starship is now on the lookout for other campuses across western Europe and the US where it can deploy the robots .

Tech companies want to make college campuses the vanguard of the robotic food - delivery In fact, they were born on the campus , at Berkeley’s SkyDeck accelerator, a launchpad program for “Before long, there will surely be requests for autonomous deliveries on the Cornell campus , as there Just months after the program launched at GMU, Starship robots were introduced to student meal plans at

'It's terrifying because there is /nothing/ i can do in the moment. I am not going to have my safety compromised because a non-sentient robot isn't advanced enough to know that it's putting me in danger,' she added.

a man and a woman sitting on a bench talking on a cell phone: The self-driving delivery robot by Starship Technologies is designed to carry items within a four-mile radius including packages, groceries and foods, once requested via mobile app. A pilot of the robot pictured above in London on July 5, 2016© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The self-driving delivery robot by Starship Technologies is designed to carry items within a four-mile radius including packages, groceries and foods, once requested via mobile app. A pilot of the robot pictured above in London on July 5, 2016

She revealed that Starship and the university reached out to her following the incident.

Following a phone call with Starship, the mobile technology company issued a statement saying they're committed to the disability community.

Still, the robots returned to campus just four days later but under heavier human surveillance. The robots originally appeared on campus supervised by humans but have started to roll out on their own.

Starship's self-driving delivery robot is designed to carry items within a four-mile radius including packages, groceries and foods, once requested via mobile app.

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The food delivery robots use sensors, cameras and radar to navigate the streets; artificial Starship has focused on college campuses , where demand for food deliveries is high and students have Its robots operate from early morning till late at night, rain or shine, traveling at a maximum speed of

“We care that our robots are good citizens of the sidewalk ,” he says. “We’ve taken a lot of care Their argument is that robots can in fact help with the urban problems of traffic jams, air pollution and There is no doubt that a growing appetite for online shopping and food delivery is choking cities.

The robots have so far been tested in over 100 cities in 20 countries and are emerging on American university campuses including the University of Pittsburgh and George Mason University.

The robots are equipped with cameras to help the maneuver across streets and weave through sidewalk traffic.

Now Ackerman is calling for the company, and other tech giants, to hire more disabled engineers and designers to make their products more inclusive and friendly for people with disabilities.

'The advancement of robotics, AI, and other “futuristic” technologies has ushered in a new era in the ongoing struggle for representation of people with disabilities in large-scale decision-making settings,' Ackerman said in her op-ed.

'We need to build a technological future that benefits disabled people without disadvantaging them along the way. Companies must practice accountability from their positions of power,' she added.

Starship Technologies tells DailyMail.com that they reviewed video footage from their robot of Ackerman's incident and said she was able to travel past the robot and onto the curb without incident.

'We are always grateful when any potential issues are flagged to us that can help make us better. We have reviewed the footage from the reported incident and are glad to see that Emily was able to travel past the robot without stopping,' the company said.

'We work with many community organizations, including people with disabilities, with the aim to ensure everyone feels comfortable with this technology and that we are mindful of the needs of various community members,' the company added.

Read more

Yandex is testing autonomous delivery robots at its Moscow HQ .
Delivery robots from Amazon, Postmates and Starship are already in the wild, but they're not the only ones with self-driving couriers. Another tech giant, Yandex, is working on its own autonomous package carrier, called Yandex.Rover. Its self-driving division is trialing Yandex.Rovers (which are based on the same tech as the cars) at the company's Moscow headquarters. For now, they're carrying documents to a shuttle that connects Yandex offices throughout the city. The robot can plan its route, detect and bypass obstacles and give pedestrians and pets the right of way.Yandex.

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