REV-1 – a robo courier who is not afraid of bad weatherJuly 14, 2019
Startup Refraction, founded by Professor of Robotics at the University of Michigan Matthew Johnson-Robertson and former Ford specialist Ram Vasudevan, who worked on autonomous motion control algorithms for ice and snow, expects to succeed where he has no competitors: in the field of creating robot couriers for regions with harsh climate.
As reported, the REV-1 three-wheeled robot developed by a start-up is easy and inexpensive: for mass production it will cost only $ 5000. The device drives along bicycle lanes and does without expensive lidars – instead of them it has 12 cameras, a radar and ultrasonic sensors. Its main advantage is that it can move both in rain and in snow, writes TechCrunch.
“There is no point in economic terms to use a $ 10,000 lidar to deliver $ 10 worth of products to a customer,” – Johnson-Robertson reasonably notes.
The size of REV-1 with an electric bike (the height of the robot is 1.5 meters, length – 1.4 m) and weighs about 45 kg. Inside it has 0.4 cubic meters of free space, which is enough to fit four or five large bags of food.
The unit does not drive particularly fast – the maximum speed is limited to 24 km / h, but since it rides along the suburbian bicycle paths and only in the absence of these can drive onto the road for cars, then it’s not necessary anymore. But low speed and low weight provide a short stopping distance – about one and a half meters.
The first customers of the company will be small Michigan restaurants, while in the next six months Refraction hopes to expand to large national chains, as well as to enter into a partnership with supermarkets and pharmacies. However, while the startup intends to limit its expansion to the northern states only.
“Our competitors rarely climb to the northern states because they are afraid of the winters here,” indicates Johnson-Roberson. “We hope that the absence of competition will give us the opportunity to slowly, thoroughly work through our service.”
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