Company seeks to test self-driving delivery robots in DC

FOX 5's Matt Ackland reports.

- You could soon be sharing the sidewalk with robots in D.C. A test project will be presented to District leaders to allow delivery robots to operate on city sidewalks.

These robots could be delivering your takeout meal or maybe some fresh groceries. The company that created them say they are safe, smart and conserve energy.

The one we saw roaming around is named 6C7 and it has heads turning.

“It's really cool,” said D.C. resident Jessie Cohen. “In the past, they have had the Amazon drones, but this is something completely different, which I think is awesome.”

Two co-founders of Skype have created the company Starship Technologies to create these self-delivery robots that is designed to roll down the sidewalk and navigate stop signs and red lights. It even has advanced technology so it doesn't hit pedestrians.

“It has nine cameras, an obstacle detection system," said Alexander Shakeshaft. "For example, if a pedestrian was to walk in front of it, the robot would stop."

The process is easy. You order what you want on your cell phone and then the delivery robot comes to you. You can even track it. Once it arrives to you, you hit a button on your cell phone and the robot opens up and you will able to get your delivery.

Weekend drive in Washington, DC

Posted by Starship Technologies on Sunday, March 20, 2016

Washington D.C. has been chosen as the first test project city. That is why the company is trying to get city leaders on board.

D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh, chairman of the Transporation Committee, will present the robot at the Wilson Building this week.

“I’m excited about it,” she said. “I think it’s amazing. It’s the kind of innovation that helps us in so many ways. First of all, it will be environmentally beneficial.”

The robot can even have a conversation with you. A person at the operations center is able to communicate with the customer or pedestrians along the way.

And don't think about stealing it. GPS technology will notify police if it is taken or damaged.

“I've personally spoken to thousands of people and I have had only positive responses,” said Shakeshaft.

The D.C. council and mayor will need to sign off on this project. Currently, only electric wheelchairs and Segways are permitted on D.C. sidewalks.

Keep in mind, this will only be a test project that will only consist of just a few robots.

These robots are very environmentally friendly with no gas emissions and we are told it takes very little power to charge them.

The company is asking for help to name their delivery robots and is taking name suggestions on its website.

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