Piaggio, the company behind the iconic Vespa motor bikes, is launching a cylindrical mobile robot with a carrying capacity of 40 lb
Piaggio Group, which claims to be the largest European manufacturer of two-wheel motor vehicles such as the famous Vespa, has launched Piaggio Fast Forward, a newly-established company based in the US formed to pioneer future robotics-oriented technology.
Piaggio was founded over 130 years ago, but the company says its new division is aiming to “fundamentally rethinking the movement of people and goods”.
Michele Colaninno, chairman of PFF, says: “We have established Piaggio Fast Forward to reinvent the future of mobility and this is best accomplished with PFF as a separate entity, but with the backing and experience of the Piaggio Group. You can expect to find Piaggio Fast Forward blurring the lines between transportation, robotics, and urban environments.”
Piaggio Fast Forward is based in Boston, Massachusetts and is led by:
- Jeffrey Schnapp – CEO;
- Greg Lynn – chief creative officer;
- Sasha Hoffman – chief operating officer; and
- Dr Beth Altringer – chief design research officer.
PFF’s board of advisors include:
- Nicholas Negroponte – founder, MIT Media Lab;
- John Hoke – VP global design, Nike;
- Doug Brent – VP technology innovation, Trimble; and
- Jeff Linnell – former director of robotics, Google.
Jeffrey Schnapp, CEO of Piaggio Fast Forward, says: “The transportation and robotics industries tend to focus on optimizing tasks and displacing labor. We are developing products that augment and extend human capabilities, instead of simply seeking to replace them.”
Jeeta is spelled Gita
Piaggio Fast Forward’s first offering is Gita (pronounced “jee-ta”, which in Italian means a “short trip”), an autonomous vehicle that extends a person’s cargo-carrying abilities.
Gita is an intelligent vehicle with a communicative personality. It learns and navigates indoors and out with the oversight and decision-making of humans. Gita is able to follow a human operator or move autonomously in a mapped environment.
Gita is 26 inches tall, has a cargo carrying capacity of 40 lbs, and a maximum speed of 22 mph. Gita is designed to travel at human speeds with human agility. Gita has a zero turning radius and is designed to accompany people at speeds from a crawl, to a walk, to a jog, to riding a bike.
Instead of deciding to use an automobile or truck to transport 40 pounds worth of packages, Piaggio Fast Forward wants to help people walk, run, pedal and skate through life with the assistance of a family of vehicles like Gita.
Schnapp says: “Think about how much more freely you would be able to move from one point to another if lugging cumbersome items was removed from the equation.
“Gita frees up the human hand to focus on complex and creative everyday tasks by taking over mundane transportation chores. You can also send your Gita off on missions while you are busy doing something more pressing.”
PFF will be deploying Gita in a variety of B2B pilot programs in the near term, with an eye toward future consumer applications.