As manufacturer of the Vespa, Piaggio already has plenty of experience making stylish two-wheeled vehicles.
Now, an off-shoot of the firm -- Piaggio Fast Forward -- is hoping to score another success, this time with a soon-to-launch autonomous personal cargo carrier.
Called Gita (pronounced "jee-ta," which in Italian means "short trip"), the diminutive robot resembles a large blue ball with what appear to be two bicycle wheels attached.
In a further nod to the more famous part of its business, Piaggio Fast Forward explains that Gita has been "designed and engineered with the same attention to safety, braking, balancing, and vehicle dynamics that you would expect of a high-performance motorcycle."
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Designed to follow a human operator or move autonomously in a mapped environment, 66-cm-tall Gita includes obstacle-avoidance technology to ensure a bump-free journey from A to B. It can handle a decent weight, too -- up 40 pounds -- with its consignment secured inside a decent-sized compartment that comes with a lockable lid.
Gita's zero turning radius and top speed of 22 mph make it both nimble and quick, so whether you're a fast walker or on your bike, this particular robotic companion shouldn't have any trouble keeping up as you head home from the supermarket with your freshly bought supplies.
At first glance, battery-powered Gita seems like the kind of robot you might actually like to have alongside you when you can't be bothered to carry a stack of stuff between locations. It certainly looks more stylish than this autonomous basket-carrying helper.
"The transportation and robotics industries tend to focus on optimizing tasks and displacing labor," Jeffrey Schnapp, CEO of Piaggio Fast Forward, said in a release. "We're developing products that augment and extend human capabilities, instead of simply seeking to replace them."
To begin with, Piaggio Fast Forward wants to offer Gita to businesses for trials aimed at refining its design, but it also plans to offer a version to the likes of you and me before too long. So if the idea of your own robot butler, then stay tuned.
Gita's official unveiling takes place at Piaggio Fast Forward's Boston headquarters on Thursday, at which time we'll hopefully find out more details such as pricing and availability.