Parcel delivery company Herpes is testing a new delivery robot with machine learning capabilities. The robot learned the ropes by accompanying human and near-human delivery drivers and has recently been making some deliveries on its own.
Although the company says that the trial was uber-successful, their evaluation did reveal some points for improvement. For example:
- a delivery of bath taps to Box was left in a box in Bath
- a delivery of coal was mistakenly taken to Newcastle
- noise cancelling headphones were sent to Coventry
- a consignment of mobile phones was left behind the bar at a local pub ‘for Reg’
- one parcel was soaked in an unidentified liquid and tied to a stray dog
- in one instance the robot insisted on taking a naked photograph of the recipient as proof of delivery
- the robot stashed 27 empty cola bottles in the cabin of its van. When asked about this, the robot said that it helped to speed up deliveries.
- every journey past the donut shop involved purchasing at least a dozen, using the company debit card. These purchases were all recorded as ‘fuel’.
- the robot got into the habit of taking home 15 to 20 parcels at the end of each shift
- to achieve its target performance measure of 99.5% of parcels delivered in good condition, the robot completely destroyed one parcel in every 200.
A spokesman said that things had started well, with the robot able to deliver accurately using house numbers and post codes to deliver parcels. However, as the trial progressed the robot acquired some bad habits from its co-workers. The company plans to reboot the robot to delete its recent learning and expects this to restore a more normal service.