Fast food to be delivered by robots in San Francisco

Yelp's Eat24 has teamed up with Marble, a robot delivery startup, and will start delivering food in the evening in the relatively flat Mission and Potrero Hill districts in San Francisco California.

At present, the robots will have a person accompanying them in case something goes wrong, although the robots will be running autonomously. The Marble robots are larger than those of some competitors and take up about as much space as a mobility scooter and are about waist high. The much smaller robots of Starship Technology made in Estonia have also begun testing in Washington D.C. for Postmates and DoorDash in Redwood City California:
The six-wheeled robots are a little under two feet tall, weigh about 40 pounds empty and travel four miles per hour — walking speed. The idea is that one day soon these autonomous rovers will share sidewalk space with pedestrians on their own, but for now they’ll be accompanied by handlers — people walking alongside each robot as it makes its deliveries.The robots are discussed in a March Digital Journal article.
Only some of Eat24's take-out customers will be able to use the robot service. The eatery will first determine if the order is from an area the robot can go and if the robot can carry it. The customer will then be notified of the robot delivery option. Only less than 10 robots will participate in the trial. They will travel at walking speed. They have an an array of sensors plus lidar and also maps of the areas where the robots will deliver. Marble just received $4 million in seed money funding. Other delivery startups are also attracting investor interest. Dispatch a Marble competitor received $2 million startup funds and has already completed two pilot programs at the University of California. Starship said in January that it had received $17.2 million in seed funding. Starship is also to begin delivering pizzas for Dominos in Europe.
While the concept of robotic delivery appears to make sense, it has so far been found quite difficult to execute. The robotic ground delivery is also in competition with delivery by drone which has been taking place for some time and for a number of different items. In the United States a test project involves Virginia Tech's Project Wing in partnership with Chipotle Mexican Grill to deliver fast food.


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