Food delivery robots are teaching themselves how to cross roads

Until now, delivery robots have always needed humans to help them when things get tricky. Now machine learning has helped them work out how to manage without us

Ding dong! That’ll be the robot with my pizza. Such a scenario probably seems a bit far-fetched but, in the US and UK, delivery firms like JustEat and DoorDash are already experimenting using small robots to deliver groceries and meals.

Currently these systems need human chaperones to monitor the robot’s progress, jumping in if it gets into trouble. But now Kiwi, a company based at the University of California, Berkeley, is using machine learning to teach its delivery robots how to cross the road safely, without any human intervention. It could be an important step in making these robots more autonomous, something that is vital if they are ever going to be delivering our dinners at scale.

Such a system could also help delivery firms with the tricky ‘last mile’ problem of

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