This robot is on a mission to eliminate short car trips

Many of the world’s robots got their start at Carnegie Mellon University, where people like Gabriel Goldman, a senior commercialization specialist, try to close the gap between vanguard engineering and actual revenue. Goldman says much of his time is spent convincing potential partners that “small, progressive gains towards a realistic solution” make more sense than expensive autonomous robots. “There’s a huge benefit to just augmenting what an operator can do,” he says.

Still, Goldman doesn’t expect machines like Gita to be ubiquitous for another decade or so, simply because it still costs too much to make a truly killer version — one that can climb stairs, for example, or follow its owner through a whiteout blizzard.

“It’s all those edge cases that are probably holding them back a little,” he explains. “For most consumer-grade robotics right now, the price point that actually makes it achievable from a market standpoint really limits the ability of what it can actually do.”