Science

The delivery robot passed through the crime scene, ignoring the barriers and the police

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Among misplaced robots, robots that catch fire for no apparent reason, and traffic accidents, autonomous robot companies still have their jobs. In May of this year, one of the delivery robots from Serve Robotics (a subsidiary of Uber Eats) was in the testing phase as it casually walked through a crime scene in Los Angeles, ignoring yellow border tapes and dozens of police officers. website. Inciting amusement among netizens in a video posted to Twitter, the robot was supposed to be fully autonomous, but Serve Robotics says it was an oversight error that would be required for them to test safely.

Uber Eats created its subsidiary Serve Robotics in 2021 for a new delivery service using autonomous robots. The company’s strategy is to become the world’s only platform for integrating autonomous technologies anywhere in the world, to make it easier for everyone to access any purchase, wherever they are.

The company’s first batch of delivery robots has been testing in Los Angeles since May of this year. But a famous video circulating on Twitter shows that they are not yet mature enough to comply with certain restrictions. When they move in society, it is especially necessary that they follow the same codes as any vehicle or any citizen, so as not to deviate from the established order.

Dispatcher error

The incident took place at a shooting-related crime scene near Hollywood High School in Los Angeles last Tuesday around 10 am (local time). Although it was later revealed to be a prank, the robot was filmed driving silently down the sidewalk and attempting to pass through the yellow prohibition tape marking the territory.

The video shows him dodging between reporters and trying to push through the tape until a special cameraman picks him up and let him through. He then crossed the crime scene under the puzzled looks of the police, who obviously didn’t know if they should arrest him or not. The officers then ignored him and allowed him to continue on his way. “I just foresaw this and couldn’t believe my eyes,” said William Goode, an internet user who filmed the scene and posted it on his Film the Police LA Twitter account (an account he dedicates to monitoring local police activity). .

Video showing a robot sneaking around a crime scene.

Goode claims to have walked past these four-wheeled robots on several occasions and found their encounters generally amusing and unexpected. As the cops directed the high school students and parents to evacuate the scene, the robot completely ignored any boundaries and walked between the cops as if it were one of them.

While most internet users find this scene amusing, it should be remembered that this is a serious mistake on the part of Serve Robotics, which could therefore have caused damage. Especially since, as the person we hear in the video suggests, the robot “should [même] managed to hide the bomb.

The standard operating procedure for its robots will be to bypass, rather than overcome, barriers, such as those at a crime scene, the company said. But a mistake would be made, in particular, on the part of the observer of the robot, who would presumably believe that he was given a sign so that he could pass without problems. Thus, misunderstanding comes from the manager, and not from the system that controls the robot.

For now, Serve Robotics seems to be hinting that its machines are not yet capable of full autonomy. “While Serve robots can work autonomously in most cases, they are entrusted to humans to ensure their safe operation,” said Aduc Thelwell, a spokesman for the subsidiary.

While autonomous robotics projects abound, true empowerment will still require long-term work. However, quite often and even logically, the testing phase includes failures, and this is also one of the best ways to bring the project to its best stage of implementation.

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