Much of today’s snail mail sorting is done electronically, and while electronic sorting isn’t something new, the PR2 presents an innovation in mail/postal technologies which, starting at a small scale, could expand into something great.
The PR2 is a robot designed to sort mail by recipient and deliver it to them. It seems to have a very strange design, and it’s not clear how it sorts the mail, but I suspect it has something to do with the moving mouthpiece. The mailbot is a rather interesting idea, and looks like it can be a project with great potential to improve in the future. At this point though, it looks rather bulky and unattractive.
The funny part is that in the demo of the robot’s sorting process, the supervisor who’s supervising the robot seems to be distracted with other things. This appears to be the fault of the robot, not because it is doing a menial job boringly, but because it is moving incredibly slow. The video is moving at least 20 times faster than the actual time it took for the robot to sort and deliver the mail.
After picking up the letter, the robot scans it and places it into one of its mailslots. It then goes to drop the mail off at a preprogrammed location for the correct recipients.
Apart from being slow, the robot is also rather clumsy. The programming seems to be fixed and provides the robot with limited flexibility, and functionality seems buggy. It is capable of travelling between two distant points. Any worries one might have of confusing recipients can be relieved as the robot manages to deliver all the mail to the correct address. Either way, given time, this technology could improve, but for now, we’re content with letting other humans do the work. Check out the video here: