This self-driving delivery robot uses facial recognition to unlock the goodies

Small, wheel-based delivery robots continue to be of interest to many startups around the world, though considering the tragedy that befell this hitchhiking robot a few years ago, it’s hard to know if the human race is ready to fully embrace the idea of autonomous robots trundling along the street by themselves.

One outfit that isn’t giving up on delivery robots is E-Novia. Based in Milan, Italy, E-Novia is currently testing YAPE — short for Your Autonomous Pony Express — a compact self-driving robot that has an impressive range of some 50 miles (80 kilometers).

Bringing to mind Piaggio Fast Forward’s Gita robot, YAPE moves along on two wheels and self-balances while reaching speeds of up to 12.4 mph (20 kmh), according to New Atlas.

Able to transport packages weighing up to a hefty 154 pounds (70 kilograms), YAPE uses a combination of sensors, cameras, and GPS to navigate sidewalks and other off-road routes such as cycle lanes to reach its destination. It also communicates with sensors fitted to traffic lights and other road equipment so it can respond to fast-changing street conditions.

When it reaches the delivery address, the recipient simply shows their face to YAPE’s facial recognition camera to unlock the compartment containing the package.

“YAPE is simple to use thanks to an app connected to a control platform,” E-Novia explains on its website. “To send packages via YAPE, all you have to do is input the destination address in the app, or simply [input] to whom the package is addressed, leaving the task of finding the correct address to YAPE’s GPS system. On delivery, the recipient will only be able to open the package compartment using a facial recognition system.”

It all sounds rather cool, though regulatory hurdles will need to be overcome if such technology is ever to make it into the mainstream. And we still worry about ne’er-do-wells who believe it’ would be hilarious to throw a blanket over YAPE as it goes on its merry way, or simply lift it up and toss it into a canal. Remember poor ol’ HitchBOT.

If a secure delivery system can be worked out, then we’re right behind YAPE and other similar designs offered by the likes of Starship Technologies and DHL. Heck, robots like these don’t even have to go out by themselves — they could simply act as a personal helper or robotic companion that follows you around and carries your stuff.

E-Novia will be showing off YAPE at CES 2018, and DT will be there to check it out.

Movies & TV

Us review: Jordan Peele makes seeing double singularly terrifying

Jordan Peele follows up his Oscar-winning 2017 thriller Get Out with a more straightforward horror film in Us, but the film's blunt terror succeeds thanks to fantastic performances from the cast and clever storytelling.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.
Smart Home

Need some help? Here's our handy step-by-step guide on how to Airbnb your home

Getting ready to make your home a great rental? Here's how to Airbnb your home with the right amenities, insurance, supplies, and everthing else that you need. Use this guide to get started without making beginner mistakes!
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.
Deals

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!