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Italian robot engineers forget the Italian facts of life

by on08 February 2017

Cool idea, which was not thought through properly

Italian engineers at Piaggio came up with a really cool robotic idea which not quite but completely flawed and utterly missed one thing which is a fact of life.

Piaggio, the same company that created the Vespa scooter, thought it would be really cool to have a small robot which carried your bags for you. There is a video here.

Dubbed Gita, it is hitting the headlines all over the world. It has a top speed of 22 miles per hour, and it can supposedly either follow its owner around or navigate environments on its own – just like a robot version of Terry Pratchett’s luggage.

The vision is that Gita will follow humans back from the supermarket and make the tartan shopping trolley obsolete.

All this is rather cool, but when I showed the design to a few Italians they all pointed out the design flaw which no one has commented on. If you put your bag in the small robot, you are giving bag snatchers a soft target. Bag snatchers, ironically travelling on Vespas, will try to snatch bags and the only challenge they face is if a victim resists.

Now, thanks to Gita, the bag will not even be attached to the owner, but will be in a small, light, and very portable robot following behind. 

At least Terry Pratchett’s luggage would eat any would-be thief, but the Piaggio is completely defenceless. This is not the only problem.  If you go for a long walk the battery is almost certainly going to run out, which means you will have to carry your bags and the dead robot. This one will have to go into the pile of interesting gear that the designers did not think though.


Last modified on 08 February 2017
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