The Vespa brand's owner, the Piaggio Group, doesn't have a reputation for cutting edge tech (it only just started making an electric scooter). However, it's making up for that in style. It's establishing a robot-focused company, Piaggio Fast Forward, and has unveiled that company's first product: meet Gita, a personal cargo robot. The machine can haul up to 40 pounds of supplies either autonomously (if there are maps) or by following a human operator. It's fast enough to keep up with you on a bike (22MPH), and its zero turning radius promises the "human agility" needed to navigate sidewalks. If you don't like the idea of driving a car or pushing a dolly just to get your groceries home, this might be just what you were looking for.
Gita will first show up in business-to-business test programs, but Piaggio intends to release something you can buy for individual use.
A grander announcement is expected on February 2nd, and it might address some lingering questions about Gita. Will it be inexpensive enough that you can realistically buy the eventual consumer version? And is the range good enough that the robot can accompany you across town, or will it be limited to neighborhood jaunts? Those kinds of questions are important -- while Gita looks good at first blush, it has to be both affordable and practical to be more than a novelty.