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Food delivery robots are so cute – by design

Robots are coming. Literally. A fleet of knee-high food delivery robots will soon be rolling out around the next Chicago docks expansion for a pilot program at the University of Illinois. White compact robots with small orange flags and mysterious turtle-like objects will spoil food from participating companies to locations within a small urban radius. They’re the latest to join the flock of delivery robots swirling around the US: Big Gamers love Domino’sAnd the KrogerAnd the PostmatesAnd the DoorDashAnd the Uber They all have skin (lithium?) in the robot food delivery game, which analysts expect to be worth approx 1 billion dollars by 2026.

So how are people across the country adapting to their new robot companions? some gig economy workers Discontent with robots competing for human jobs, although the rise has also been explained by labor shortage. Other people have reported He was kicking them. But a spokesperson for the manufacturer Starship Technologies said interested in trade More than 15 million people who have encountered their bots so far have either ignored it or were happy with it. So many people Delivery bots help when they are downI feel sad because they There in the mean streets aloneAnd the Forgive them for arriving late. This is partly because food delivery robots are incredibly cute.

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Delivery robots don’t look like the humans who shine in sci-fi thrillers. Most of them appear like WALL-E and generate similar responses: in one Tik Tok video, the woman behind the camera loses when the delivery robot asks very politely if she can “please press the traffic light button” so he can cross the road. “Good luck,” the robot calls out as it moves away into the night. Another serious delivery robot has disarmed the LAPD, who had no idea what to do when it was done so quietly. Rolled straight through the crime scene. So what makes them so lovable?

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The most popular food delivery robot in the United States looks like a round cube sitting on six small wheels, the foodbox trembling like a doll as it travels. Michael Walters, PhD, a lecturer in computing at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, told the Journal of Technology and Culture that baby-like features, “like big heads and eyes,” indicate our nurturing instincts. contemplate fears. Says Kid Dehm, founder of the company New Design ConferenceIt is an independent digital research organization based in Europe and Australia.

On top of that, voice feedback gives the machines personality and flashing lights make the robot seem like it’s thinking. These kinds of details lead us to bring out human-like qualities on food delivery robots, Dehm says. You may feel your maternal instinct for the robot because you “both personify him as possessing his feelings and desires, while also recognizing that he is a small animal who needs protection.”

The attractiveness of the robot is not accidental. These types of design details help companies protect their equipment. Dehm says industrial designers can “skillfully influence” the relationship people have with their robots. If humans feel an innate sense of protection for them — as we do for a puppy or a baby — we may feel more compelled to help a birth robot who gets a baby. stuck on the sidewalk And less incentive to cup her for a slice of pizza.

I came across my first delivery robot last year while walking to dinner in Santa Monica. The streets were quiet. Out of nowhere a small white ball on wheels sails through a zebra crossing. She shrieked as she fell on the pier, her little flag waving in the sea breeze. My first thought wasn’t to get the delicious contents out of her guts, but to give her a little pat on the head. “Where’s your mother, my little girl?” I said, bowed. “Can I take you home?” I just got off into the distance. Very sweet and brave.

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