Friday, May 19, 2017
Robot makers who are using the streets of San Francisco to deliver meals have a PR challenge. The city wants to ban them. There is a fear that the machines will run over people rather than avoiding them. What Marble, the maker, must do now is to defuse the concerns of a city supervisor. The company has an audience target of one, and that person is convinced robots will go rogue eventually and smash into people rather than deliver the food they are carrying. One way to ease the supervisor's fears is to show him how the robot works on crowded sidewalks with adults and children. Even that might not be enough. The company might need to mount a campaign of citizens who want to be served by robots. Write-ins, calls, appearances at city council, public pressure can eventually wear an opponent down. The question is whether the company has the money and time to get this done. A robot for food delivery is hardly a household necessity.