Gita, the faithful fast forward follow drone

Gita, the faithful fast forward follow drone

Gita is a cylindrical cargo robot capable of carrying a 40 lb load for its human companion. Developed by Piaggio Fast Forward, a product studio within the 130 year old Italian manufacturer, Gita challenges common assumptions about the role of robots and autonomous vehicles.

It was selected by Patrizia Bertini as part our ongoing inspirations project, where each week the MEX team shares the stories, products and technologies which have caused us to think differently.

Gita operates in several modes, including one with a high degree of self-guided autonomy. However, it seems at its most compelling when serving as a human companion. It follows a tracking device attached to the user, rolling behind them with the cargo stowed in its internal, water-proof hatch. Users might bring it along to carry the grocery shopping or accompany them to the library with its hold stuffed full of books.

My first thought when Patrizia shared Wired’s story on the Gita was: “What would I call mine?” There’s something about its two-wheeled, zero-turning radius design which evokes the droids of the Star Wars universe, but at the same time it has the behavioural characteristics of a faithful hound walking at heel with its owner. These are the design nuances essential to establishing human trust and familiarity with robots.

Jeffrey Schnapp of Piaggio Fast Forward told Wired: “In order to accustom people to a world where robots and humans are circulating together, it’s highly useful to have human guides mediating that relationship.” The Wired story, which includes background on the formation of the Piaggio Fast Forward studio, is a recommended read.

We’ve been thinking a lot about the user experience of robots, including how it feels to be followed by a drone, how movable machines might relate to smartphones and reflecting on the principles for robot etiquette developed by a MEX/15 working group.

Part of MEX Inspirations, an ongoing series exploring tangents and their relationship to better experience design.

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