COVID-19: Robots Ride To Rescue As Delivery Risks Rise

Food delivery robots are seen in front of the Broad Branch Market grocery store in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Washington, DC, on April 9, 2020. – The store began using the robots about two weeks ago and makes 10-15 deliveries a day within a limited area of the neighborhood. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP.


What looks like a rolling picnic cooler stops at the crosswalk, waits for a car to pass and then navigates its way at a leisurely pace down the sidewalk in suburban Washington.

Three blocks away, Jake Williams and his three-year-old daughter Emilia wait for the delivery robot and take out bags with pizza, fresh fruit and a loaf of French bread from the nearby Broad Branch Market.

“We can’t go into the shops now,” says Williams, among those locked down due to the virus pandemic. “And it’s fun for her.”

The Starship delivery robots have seen surging demand in dozens of cities around the world, with consumers staying home and virus risks growing for both shoppers and delivery workers.

Starship began working with the Broad Branch in early April, when the corner store was forced to close to shoppers because it was too small to ensure proper social distancing.

Store owner Tracy Stannard said a fleet of up to 10 robots each day, managed by Starship, helps the market meet demands in the neighborhood. The store handles 60 to 70 deliveries daily, half by robot.

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“Some people request the robot, they don’t even care about the groceries,” Stannard said. “It’s cute to see them roaming the neighborhood and it makes people happy.”

Robot deliveries from Starship and a handful of other companies meet only a tiny fraction of food deliveries, but highlight a need in a time of social distancing and pandemic fears.

The jump in demand comes as consumers see a trip to the grocery store as a perilous adventure, and retail employees are scrambling to keep safe.

More than 40 grocery store employees in the US have died from the virus, according to a Washington Post tally. And delivery workers around the US have staged protests to press safety demands.

Expanding demand

San Francisco-based Starship Technologies, created by two Skype founders, is gearing up to operate in other areas around Washington and recently launched with retailers in Tempe, Arizona, and in cities in Britain and California.

The rolling devices operate autonomously at a speed of around six kilometers (four miles) per hour and can carry about three bags of goods.

“The demand for contactless delivery has expanded exponentially in recent weeks,” said Ryan Tuohy, vice president of Starship.

“Our robots are doing autonomous deliveries in five countries and we’re grateful that our robots can make life a little bit easier for everyone.”

A handful of other companies also has been stepping up.

Silicon Valley startup Nuro recently began delivering groceries in the Houston area in partnership with grocery giant Kroger with its R2 autonomous robot, which travels on streets at speeds up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour and can transport some 190 kilos (400 pounds).

Nuro is moving to expand its service and has received approval in California to operate on public roads.

“We did not foresee our service helping to keep Americans safe from contagion. But the COVID-19 pandemic has expedited the public need for contactless delivery services,” Nuro’s David Estrada said in a blog post.

“Times like these reinforce the need for autonomous delivery services like Nuro, and how they can benefit communities.”

Delivery robots from Postmates, a delivery startup, have also been seen on the streets in California. And similar autonomous robots are being tested by Amazon.

Above the fray?

Drone delivery is another area where interest is growing due to the pandemic.

Wing, the drone startup created by Google parent Alphabet, has seen a jump in demand in its pilot projects in rural southwestern Virginia — where it delivers non-prescription medicines and other items from the Walgreens chain — and in Australia and Finland, a company spokesman said.

“While we recognize that this service will be a small relief during this time, we hope it means one less trip to the store for items our customers may need, and provides an efficient way for local businesses to reach their customers in a time when limiting human-to-human contact is important.” Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess said.

Amazon and others have continued testing drone deliveries, but these systems are subject to regulatory barriers which have prevented deployment.

Zipline, a California startup which has been delivering medical supplies by drone in Africa, has indicated it wants offer similar services in the US once it gets regulatory approval.

“Zipline is helping other countries mount their national response efforts to #COVID19,” the company said in a tweet. “As an American company in a time of crisis, we want to help our country as well.”


Gaise Set To Bring Ebenezer Obey & Fela Kuti Together For The Youths

Gaise, Coded TunesFast rising Afro-fusion artiste, Gaise recently signed to Id Cabasa’s Coded Tunes Entertainment and from all indications the rapper is set to take his music to new heights.

Having grown up in a typical Yoruba family in Ile Ife where he was exposed to local lifestyles – climbing trees and rolling tyres as pastime – Gaise has learned to appreciate life and philosophy on a deeper level.

Like most singers, his passion for music started out in the Church and the desire to be original in content and delivery led him to become a song writer.

In an interview with Channels Television’s Entertainment News, Gaise shared some of his thoughts on the music scene in the country, laying out his plan to bring options to Nigeria’s youth.

“I feel that young people, children and those who are at the mercy of the music that is available deserve an alternative,” he said.

According to him, “there is too much of a kind of music right now and I’m not talking of style. I’m talking of content.

“It (music available) is pretty much about body parts and affluence – flexing and clubbing. I feel that there should be more mentally stimulating music – music that you hear and it makes you think.”

Gaise Coded Tunes

The rapper whose song ‘Little Drops’ gained impressive airplay told EN his music addresses issues and everyday living.

“Like I did with little drops and I was talking about Nigerians and the fact that with our actions, words and the things that we do, we actually influence the state of the nation

He further explained his opinion saying the floods in Lagos could not be blamed on the government but on citizens who litter the roads with waste.

“We are 20 million in Lagos, so if just four million of us are doing that, we have millions of litter blocking drainage. Of course, there’ll be flood.”

Although his music comes with a religious bias for Christianity which forms the boundaries for his content, Gaise admits that the late Afrobeats legend, Femi Anikulapo Kuti influences him – but only as regards delivery and style.

I am “considerably liberal. So I’m open to ideas. I’m open to learning…. so I expose my mind to those who have gone before (me)”

He adds that he will listen to rich music, even those that do not originate in Church,

“Any musician will be deceiving himself or herself if you do not give regard to the music that Fela did. I personally like the boldness with which he sang.”

Ebenezer Obey and Tope Alabi are some of the other musicians who inspire him.

“I want to do the Ebenezer Obey type of content with the Fela type fearlessness”.

Pregnant Woman Dies In Fake Doctor’s Hospital

The Lagos state police command has arrested a fake doctor whose activities in Cares Hospital located in Iba area of Lagos, has led to the death of several pregnant women.

While parading the doctor alongside staff, it was disclosed that the hospital has been in operation for three years, and has no proof of registration.

“They are fake doctors, they have never gone to any medical schools or any nursing school but they operate a hospital around Iba, the hospital is known as Cares Hospital, they also have a pharmacy there,” the State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide revealed.

It was also revealed that the unqualified medical personnel go as far as performing surgeries on patients and take delivery of babies as well which has led to the demise of many pregnant women who patronise the establishment.

“They carry out operations, surgeries; deliver women of their kids as a matter of taking as much as 200 deliveries, meanwhile they are not doctors, they are not even qualified nurses, no knowledge of that they didn’t go to any school and from investigation, we have equally discovered that a lot of women have died there, because they are not real doctors”

One of the suspects also narrated the case of a victim who was  “labouring due to an overdose of Oxytocin induction, she was bleeding, and she bled then and they were not able to arrest the case, as they were leading the woman down from the delivery couch, the woman fell from the bed and died”.

Officer Braide advised patients seeking medical attention to be very careful and mindful of which medical institution they go to for medical services as making a wrong choice may mean risking their lives.

Cricket:Boucher can still regain some vision- Doctor

Former South African wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher has been some kind of hope concerning his future as wicketkeeper as the doctor treating the South African says he can still play cricket as he could regain vision in his left eye which was affected in freak accident.

Several tests that was run showed that there has been any detachment from the retina and this is a positive news to hear, though there’s need to physically see the condition in there, Shuaib Manjra said.

His doctor said further that Boucher will need several procedures as the level of damage can only be described as astonishing.

Mark Boucher has been doing more of sleeping and following the Tour de France cycle race plus getting support messages from fans, His spokesperson concluded.

His doctor Shuaib said he is hoping Boucher returns to play if all went well according the tests that have been done.