It's a fiercely hot afternoon in Milton Keynes and I'm chasing a small orange flag as it waggles just above a line of low garden walls. The flag is attached to a white robot with six wheels and I'm relieved to see that it's slowing down to a halt.
Cristiane Bonifacio has just extracted a large chocolate bar from the robot that has rolled up outside her home. Ms. Bonifacio is in a hurry and has to dash back indoors for a work Zoom call, but she's got just enough time to express her affection for the robot delivery service that sends these machines scuttling along her local pavements.
"I love the robots. Sometimes you find one that's got stuck so you help it and it says 'thank you'."
The robot delivery service from Starship Technologies was launched in Milton Keynes four years ago and has been steadily expanding ever since, with further towns added just last month.
After decades of playing the villain in science fiction, robots are now part of life in many towns and people haven't just embraced them, they rush to assist them. What is going on?