21 Aug Is that a Robot at your door?
It’s not enough that motorists and pedestrians need to dodge Bird and Lime scooters, Amazon recently announced it will begin delivering some packages to Prime members in Irvine with a “small number” of its rolling, roboticScout delivery vehicles. The initial automated robot deliveries will only occur Monday through Friday, during daylight hours, and will initially include an “Amazon Scout Ambassador” (I think that’s a human) to make sure that packages actually get delivered. Irvine is the Scout’s first expansion market beyond Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. And, while Amazon anticipates eventually it will use drones to make its deliveries, in the meantime the rolling robotic Scouts will soon be replacing larger human-driven vehicles whisking those free Same-Day, One-Day, and Two-Day shipped packages your way.
And, if you’re flying in or out of SFO, stop by Terminal 3 to take a gander at Briggo’s latest barista. The automated gourmet coffee kiosk operates 24/7 without any on-site staff. According to ZDNet, the fully-contained unit is purpose-built to create custom whole-bean blends and add fresh dairy and syrups at a rate of up to 100 cups per hour. Just like for Starbucks regulars, Briggo has a mobile app so customers (and SFO frequent flyers) can order ahead; or drinks can also be ordered via a touchscreen console.
While all of this robotic technology is “cool,” to paraphrase Brian Benchoff, who wrote “I ate a robot hamburger before the restaurant went out of business,” for Hackaday,operating it is not cheap. As he recounted about San Francisco robotic burger shop, Creator: “There were two people taking orders, a doorman, someone cleaning up outside, someone cleaning up inside, and at least half a dozen people working the machine. Most of them wore Apple Watches, which are part of the uniform, because this tells the employees what’s wrong with the machine. Contrast this with a McDonald’s, where you’ll have only ten people working during the lunch rush.” Of course, the idea is that in time the ten McDonald’s burger-flippers, cash-takers, and Happy Meal packagers, will be reduced to a burger-flipping machine, self-ordering kiosk, and a robotic bagger. And at least three “low skill, entry-level” jobs that teens (and increasingly, I’m noticing, seniors) depend on, will disappear.
Oh well, maybe they can get jobs “juicing” the Lime scooters that lie all over the sidewalks by day’s end. Or get a gig as a Bird “charger,” scouting down “depleted” scooters – to get them off the street by 8 pm, then returning the charged scooters to their “nests” between 4 and 7 am – in groups of three, handlebars tilted to the right, and kickstands down. Hey, it may not be as artistic as putting just the right amount of foam on a latte, but it is a job.
by Mimi Grant, President, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization – Round Tables and Events for CEOs of Technology and Healthcare Companies