"It may not be long before the first robot helpers are spotted chasing their owners along sidewalks and bike paths," said Will Knight at Technology Review. Gita, a spherical, two-wheeled robot, can lug up to 40 pounds of stuff, following behind its owner "like an eager puppy."

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The robot navigates using its built-in cameras, plus a second set of cameras in a special belt worn by whomever it's following, to create a 3D map of its environment. Gita is the creation of Piaggio, the Italian automotive company behind the Vespa scooter. While the company initially plans to test Gita in business settings like factories and theme parks, it hopes the robot will also appeal to consumers looking for a helping hand lugging groceries and other items. Piaggio has not yet announced a price, or when the robot might go on sale.