Riders are being encouraged to report their interactions with grocery-delivering robots as work takes place to help establish “correct robot behaviour” around horses.
Starship Technologies’ autonomous robots have completed more than four million commercial deliveries worldwide, and in the UK are becoming a “common sight” in Cambridge, Cambourne, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Bedford and Leeds, as they carry out deliveries for retailers including Tesco and Co-op.
The company is now working with the British Horse Society (BHS) to establish “the standards of correct robot behaviour around horses”. This includes the robot stopping and waiting for a rider to pass before it continues on its journey.
Starship is collecting insights from riders who have interacted with its robots via the BHS “Horse i” app to help develop “safe robot behaviour.” The company is also offering robot familiarisation sessions for riders based in Cambourne, to “better acquaint their horses”.
“Working with the BHS will help our robots to happily coexist with any horses they encounter. Our robots learn with every journey, and the insights we gather will allow us to establish positive robot behaviour around horses – not only in the UK, but also in the US and other locations around the world where we operate,” said Lindsay Roberts, Starship director of autonomous driving.
“Working seamlessly in the communities we serve is a top priority at Starship, so we invite riders in our Cambourne service area to get in touch with us to book a familiarisation session with a robot.”
BHS director of safety Alan Hiscox said the society is pleased to be working closely with Starship to ensure the rollout of all delivery robots is done “with equine safety in mind”.
“Our priority is the safety of both horse and rider, and we welcome this opportunity to educate robot behaviour so that they act suitably around horses,” he said.
“Whether positive or negative, we encourage all equestrians to report any robot-related encounters using the ‘Horse i’ app. The more incidents that are reported, the more the BHS can do to improve riders’ safety around delivery robots.”
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