Piaggio Fast Forward, backed by the company that launched the Vespa, is launching its first consumer product: the Gita. The little spherical robot is meant to trail people on the go, carrying up to 40 pounds of their belongings. PFF envisions people using it to carry their groceries, gym equipment, or kids’ and pet toys. That way, they can spend more time walking hands-free.
Gita made headlines when it was first revealed back in 2017, and the company has added some new features (as well as taken out some) since then. For one, it’s not autonomous anymore; it can only follow whoever’s in front of it, via visual sensors. The previous top speed of 22 miles per hour has been pared down to just 6 miles per hour, presumably since it can only follow people around now instead of being able to navigate environments on its own.
Gita doesn’t record photos or videos, and can’t identify who it’s following, which is a decision PFF says was made specifically with privacy in mind. It really only works best on hard surfaces like sidewalks and paths, not in any sort of rough terrain, like sand, snow, or mud. It cannot handle stairs, and the company says it can go up and down slopes that are at a 16 percent incline, so get your protractors out before attempting to take Gita up a ramp.
There’s an app that works with the robot, though it’s not necessary for its basic functionalities. It can be used to lock and unlock the cargo bin lid, check battery levels, and stream audio through the Gita, via Bluetooth. The Gita has about four hours of battery life, and can get back up to a full charge in two hours.
Besides the issue that something like this would be kind of unusable in big cities like New York, my biggest worry would be that someone would try to steal the Gita while it’s following me. Then again, it weighs 50 pounds, and can carry up to 40 pounds of belongings, so it wouldn’t be an easy task for any ill-willed thieves to just snatch it up and make a run for it.
But at a hefty price tag of $3,250, it’ll probably be a while before cargo robots take off with consumers. For those interested in enlisting the aid of an expensive robot courier, the Gita comes in red, gray, and blue colors, and will be available November 18th, 2019.