The largest consumer electronics and business-to-business show CES was held early January and you will probably have heard about all of the new technology that was shown there. We have seen a roll up TV from LG, TVs that are able to display content in 8K (even though there is no content available), controversy about a robotics award that was granted and then retracted and more than 1200 startups displaying their products and services in Eureka Park. Fifty of them were Dutch and there were some very innovative products and solutions that they were showing.
Eureka Park is different from the rest of the show because you will not find the big corporations there, you’ll find startups that try to conquer the world. One of the most interesting ones comes from the Italian delegation. It is an autonomous delivery robot (for lack of a better description) that listens to the name YAPE. This stands for Your Autonomous Pony Express and refers to the Pony Express that operated in the United States in the years 1860 - 1861 as the fastest way to send letters from the West Coast to the East Coast and vice versa.
What is YAPE?
But what is YAPE? YAPE is an autonomous delivery robot from the Italian company e-Novia, intended for last mile deliveries in urban environments. In layman’s terms this means that this robot is able to deliver products like for instance food or packages completely autonomous from one place to the other. You simply program the robot with the intended address, put the package inside the robot and send it on its merry way.
The robot uses Artificial Intelligence and cameras to navigate to its intended destination. If for one reason or the other it gets stuck in, the operator can take over the control. After trying it out in several historical Italian city centers, the product is now ready for trials in other countries and even in continents like United States and Asia as well (of course) as in Europe. Thermal insulation makes it suitable for food deliveries and the evolution and rollout of 5G will allow for the transfer of ultra HD video streams and many second latencies allowing direct control over the robot.
Scooters vs Robots
It might very well be that in the near future robots will deliver food and packages to your doorstep, and navigating through city centers. So we might see less food delivery on scooters who drive like there is no tomorrow and more carefully navigating robots. It sounds like science fiction but the trials that are going on, make it very real. Of course, it’s not said that this is going to be an instant success. Like many innovations, the trials will determine if this is a value add in the delivery process. But the only way to know is to try.
So I applaud this sort of innovation as it advances the state of the art as far as technology goes. But it’s not new, the port of Rotterdam has been deploying AGV’s (automated guided vehicles) since 1993. Autonomous driving is something that is very much in the public eye but it’s in its early stages and will be a number of years before we see the level 5 autonomous driving around us. Renault, the French car company, is also looking into this concept albeit with a somewhat larger vehicle. It is called EZ-Pro.
Connecting to the World
So we will see new forms of transportation like the YAPE in the next couple of years. And of course all of these robots will have APIs that allow us to control the device. But not only us, also third parties could use (some of) these APIs to retrieve information on delivery etc. Instantly when I say APIs, there is requirements for management and monitoring of the use. Let me give an example, we should be able to connect to the robot and have it return to the depot from which it came. We should have this capability but other people shouldn’t. With this I mean that we need to keep out the bad guys who, when able to hijack the robot can send it to a location of their choice to s steal what’s inside. It might only be a portion of Pad Thai and not a crown jewels but from the perspective of trust and progress being able to hijack it will erode the needed trust for this technology to succeed.
So what we need is not only robots, but also a top-notch API management solution to make sure that only those people are allowed to have access to the API actually do have access. There are more capabilities that an API management solution should have, and if you want to read more about that please download our API selection white paper for more information on this.