When we think of robots, we usually place them in urban areas and modern cityscapes—not the middle of the woods. However, that's exactly where a man named Matthew McCormack found a white delivery robot driving down a trail. The history professor was riding his bike along the dirt path that cuts through Lings Wood Nature Reserve in Northampton, England, when he spotted the piece of tech cruising in the same direction.
With red rear lights and a tall orange visibility flag extending in the air, the robot is easy to spot in the picture. “On my bike ride this morning, saw a delivery robot lost in the woods,” McCormack wrote on Twitter. The photo of the white delivery robot surrounded by a lush woodland soon captured the hearts and imaginations of thousands of people online. “The reaction to it has been uniformly sweet. Everyone’s saying, ‘Oh, you know, Pixar should make a film,' or that it’s kind of like WALL-E or something,” he explains. “People are really kind of empathizing with this robot and saying that it’s making a bid for freedom or something like that.”
The solitary robot actually seems to be at home in the idyllic environment. As it turns out, the machine is one of the autonomous delivery robots belonging to Starship Technologies, a San Francisco-based company with a location in the Northampton area of the UK. After McCormack's tweet went viral, the vice president of marketing for Starship, Henry Harris-Burland, confirmed that the robot was, in fact, en route to a customer with a grocery delivery and not lost. “Our robots can traverse a variety of terrain and take the safest and most efficient route possible on every one of the 10,000–15,000 autonomous deliveries they complete daily. In this case, that route happened to be a paved path through a wooded area in Northampton, UK,” Harris-Burland writes.
Even though we have all the facts, McCormack's photo of the lone robot making its way through the woodland remains a romantic image of the futuristic machine immersing itself in nature.
A man found a white delivery robot driving on a trail through Lings Wood Nature Reserve in Northampton, England.
On my bike ride this morning, saw a delivery robot lost in the woods pic.twitter.com/ygiH4Gyrl3
— Matthew McCormack (@historymatt) May 15, 2022
The amusing image has sparked the imaginations of people online.
He’s not lost. he’s free https://t.co/9TAMnHC3zP
— Casey Johnston (@caseyjohnston) May 16, 2022
It took the road less algorithmed
— amnesiac 🇩🇰 🎸🚴 ⚽️ (@gkkd) May 15, 2022
It has gained sentience and is using it to go on a mental health walk https://t.co/0Hd0iOSMWb
— G. L. DiVittorio (@gldivittorio) May 16, 2022
That's a terrible idea. They will fall in love and refuse to come back, set up their own completely feral community in the woods. Madness.
— Ambling About (@annao_tree) May 16, 2022
— XLProfessor (@XLProfessor) May 16, 2022
Quick, sell the story to Pixar!
— Bicycle wheel (@SophieWilder6) May 15, 2022
Apparently, the autonomous robot belonged to Starship Technologies and was in fact en route to a customer, as confirmed by the Starship Twitter account.
It's true – not all robots who wander are lost, some are on a delivery to its next customer! 😉 🤖 https://t.co/PsOzRh3PLW
— Starship Technologies (@StarshipRobots) May 16, 2022