The pandemic is bringing us closer to our robot takeout future


2018.03.08 Starship Robot Activation Intuit

Starship

“We saw that business double overnight,” startup says of UK grocery deliveries.

On the morning of March 30, I set out from my home in Washington, DC, to the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. In only a few hours, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam would issue coordinated stay-at-home orders. But I was going to GMU’s campus to check out a new technology seemingly tailor-made for the moment—technology that could help people get food without the risks of face-to-face interactions.

Campus was eerily quiet; most students and staff had long been sent home. But as I approached a Starbucks at the northern edge of GMU, I heard a faint buzzing and saw a six-wheeled, microwave-sized robot zip along the sidewalk, turn, and park in front of the coffee shop. The robot looked like—and essentially was—a large white cooler on wheels. It was a delivery robot from Starship, a startup that has been operating on campus since early last year.

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1,000 Starships and 20 years are needed to build sustainable city on Mars, says Elon Musk

 

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The CEO of SpaceX took to Twitter to share the news of how dangerous and arduous the task continues to be.

Elon Musk shared more details about what will be needed to reach Mars and to build a sustainable city there.

The SpaceX CEO and his company have been working hard at their long term vision of setting up an actual city on the Red Planet, which could sustain life.

The timeline Musk shared via Twitter could be interpreted as an ambitious goal or an impressive one.

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Elon Musk says building the first sustainable city on Mars will take 1,000 Starships and 20 years

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk went into a bit more detail about the timelines and vehicle requirements to not only reach Mars, but to set up a sustainable base on the Red Planet that can serve as an actual city, supporting a local population. That’s the long-term vision for Musk and his space technology company, after all — making humans an interplanetary species. The timeline that Musk discussed today, replying to fans on Twitter, might be incredibly impressive or incredibly ambitious, depending on your perspective.

Addressing a question about comments he made earlier this week at the U.S. Air Force startup pitch day event in California, Musk said that his stated launch cost of only around $2 million per Starship flight are essentially required, should the final goal be to set up a “self-sustaining city on Mars.” In order to make that city a reality, he added, SpaceX will need to build and fly around 1,000 Starships according to his estimates, which will need to transport cargo, infrastructure and crew to Mars over the course of around 20 years, since planetary alignment only really allows for a realistically achievable Mars flight once every two years.

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SpaceX wants to land Starship on the Moon before 2022, then do cargo runs for 2024 human landing

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Speaking at a quick series of interviews with commercial space companies at this year’s annual International Astronautical Congress, SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell shed a little more light on her company’s current thinking with regards to the mission timelines for its forthcoming Starship spacefaring vehicle. Starship, currently in parallel development at SpaceX’s South Texas and Florida facilities, is intended to be an all-purpose successor to, and replacement for, both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, with a higher payload capacity and the ability to reach the Moon and eventually Mars.

“Aspirationally, we want to get Starship to orbit within a year,” Shotwell said. “We definitely want to land it on the Moon before 2022. We want to […] stage cargo there to make sure that there are resources for the folks that ultimately land on the Moon by 2024, if things go well, so that’s the aspirational time frame.”

That’s an ambitious timeline, and as Shotwell herself repeatedly stated, these are “aspirational” timelines. In the space industry, as well as in tech, it’s not uncommon for leadership to set aggressive schedules in order to drive the teams working on projects to work at the limits of what’s actually possible. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is also known for working to timelines that often don’t match up with reality, and Shotwell alluded to Musk’s ambitious goal setting as a virtue in another part of her onstage interview at IAC.

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Starship Technologies develops self-driving robot that can deliver groceries for $1.50

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Starship is a new company that is promising to disrupt local delivery with the launch of a self-driving robot that can deliver groceries to customers’ doors in under 30 minutes for less than $1.50 (£1). The Starship robot has been developed by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. It drives on pavements at an average speed of 4mph, and uses proprietary mapping and navigation technology to avoid crashing into obstacles.

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