As the competitive landscape fills with sidewalk delivery robots (Starship Technologies, Kiwibots), road delivery robots (Nuro, Udelv), drones (Amazon Prime Air), and seated scooter rideshares (OjO) in search of driving down cost per delivery, Refraction’s last mile robot might just have found a passage through the bike lane with its cleverly designed low cost state-compliant transport that can operate autonomously through the harshest weather conditions.
Not one to shy away from a good challenge, Johnson-Roberson has traveled the toughest terrain on the planet to solve some of the world’s most complex problems with AI and robotics. As a Carnegie Mellon undergraduate, he competed in the 2004 DARPA race across the Mojave desert under the tutelage of autonomous vehicle pioneers Red Whittaker and Chris Urmson. While getting his PhD from the University of Sydney, he ventured to the bottom of the sea with underwater robots to understand the effects of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef. Now he’s in the snowbelt of America’s Heartland where he heads up the University of Michigan’s robotics department, DROP Lab, and Ford Center for Autonomous Vehicles.