If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we have robots deliver our sushi? Oh, wait, apparently we can do that too.
It’s hard to fully express the joy of eating at a kaitenzushi restaurant, where conveyor belts parade an endless loop of mouthwatering plates of sushi right in front of you. If you have any appreciation for delicious food or technological innovation, it’s something you really need to experience at least once in your life.
But as convenient as it may be to have the machinery of a kaitenzushi joint bringing your food to you, you still have to go to the trouble of making your way to the restaurant in the first place. Starting next month, though, there’ll be an even easier way to enjoy sushi, and one that still shows off mechanical prowess, as sushi delivery robots are going into operation in Japan.
Tokyo-based robotics firm ZMP’s slogan is “Robot of Everything.” Since you can’t say your robots do everything if they can’t deliver food, ZMP designed the CarriRo Delivery unit to do just that. Standing one meter (3.28 feet) tall, the CarriRo Delivery is built to autonomously navigate pedestrian walkways through the use of cameras and laser sensors at a speed of up to six kilometers (3.73 miles) per hour, roughly as fast as a briskly striding human.
▼ It’s also equipped with headlights, in case you get the munchies after dark.
ZMP has entered into a partnership with Ride On Express, a multi-divisional food delivery service. Ride On Express’ brands include the popular sushi specialist Gin no Sara, and so from August CarriRo Delivery robots will be used to transport sushi orders to customers on the final leg of the distribution chain. ZMP estimates a single robot can carry enough food to feed 60 people.
Currently, legislation is still hazy on the legality of autonomous robots operating on public sidewalks. So although the CarriRo Delivery can be monitored and controlled remotely by human operators, for the robots initial assignment its use will be limited to private property such as office parks and other non-sidewalk areas. If all goes well, though, ZMP hopes to have its robots moving among pedestrians on regular sidewalks in the near future.