Swiss Post to test robots to deliver parcels, maybe even chocolate?

Press 1 for drone delivery, 2 for delivery by robot. Switzerland’s postal service is already testing mail delivery by drones. Starting in September, Swiss Post will begin trials with Starship Technologies‘ self-driving robots. The machines will be used to deliver parcels within a 5km (3.1 mile) radius, according to CNN Money.

The 6-wheel delivery robots will be hauling dummy packages during the first few months of the test, according to Claudia Pletscher, Swiss Post head of development programs and innovation. There is no plan to use the robots exclusively for ground deliveries. “We don’t believe in substituting the human being part,” said Pletscher.

The first objective is to measure pedestrian and customer reactions to the five robots in the initial testing. If the feedback is positive, then Swiss Post will decide about further deployment and use with real packages.

Customers will control the delivery system, which starts when placing an order. A customer that selects robot delivery also specifies a delivery time. For example, you might order a prescription from work, but want it delivered when you’re at home.

The robot is programmed to avoid or stop for pedestrians, animals, and vehicles en route. An onboard GPS location system guides the robot to its destination and allows the dispatch center to track its progress. When it shows up at a customer’s door, a preselected passcode unlocks the parcel compartment on the robot’s top surface.

The metallic mailman can operate day and night. LED lights alert pedestrians to its presence and forward motion lighting not only lets others see it moving, but also illuminates the space a short distance ahead so the robot’s cameras can detect obstacles.

Starship Technologies’ delivery robots are also being tested in Great Britain and Germany. Testing will start in Washington, D.C. later this fall.

The current Starship Technologies robot isn’t appropriate for all delivery sizes and types, but it could be perfect for automated delivery of prescriptions, late night cheesecake, or even an anniversary card you forgot to buy while you were out.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

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 sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Robot janitors will soon be scrubbing the floors at your local Walmart

Hundreds of robot janitors will soon be working at Walmart stores across the U.S. The company says the autonomous floor scrubbers will free its human staff from monotonous tasks so they can spend more time helping customers.
Smart Home

Forget the fecal matter forever and let this toilet-scrubbing robot take over

Vacuum cleaning robots are dandy, but how much would you pay for a robot that cleanstoilets? Altan Robotech is betting that people will shell out $500 for its Giddel Toilet Cleaning Robot, which goes on sale today at Amazon and New Egg.
Emerging Tech

Alphabet’s ‘Wing’ delivery drones are on their way to Europe

Google-parent Alphabet is taking its "Wing" drone delivery project to Helsinki in Finland. The move follows 18 months of trials in Australia, and gives the team the chance to test its technology in a harsh winter climate.
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.