Autonomous robots were first released into the wilds of the Bay Area by DoorDash and Postmates, delivering food short distances from restaurants to customers. Now Yelp Eat24 is in on the game, launching its own robotic minions in collaboration with Marble, a company focused on building autonomous ‘bots.
Starting today, customers who order from Yelp Eat24 participating restaurants in the Mission and Potrero Hill could have it delivered by a robot— to start, a limited group will be able to opt-in for delivery by autonomous machine. For those curious eaters, their food is placed into the cargo bay of a robot, then sent into the streets. When it arrives, customers have a unique access code that allows them to get into the cargo bay and retrieve their food.
The crew behind these particular robots has also worked on the technology behind self-driving cars, drones, and other useful robots (y’know, like lunar landers). Their current company was founded in 2015 specifically to work on robots for neighborhood delivery; their robots operate using sensors that allow them to roam city streets without running over humans, while mapping sidewalks to improve delivery time. It’s part of the effort to solve the problem of “last mile deliveries,” the time intensive task of dropping food off directly to consumer’s homes.
The robots are pretty large and in charge, especially compared to the versions launched by Starship Technologies and DoorDash, though that also means there is more room for multiple deliveries. It remains to be seen how that works out on the congested city streets of the Mission; during the launch phase, the autonomously driving robots will have a human handler tagging along, just in case problems spring up along the way.
Yelp Eat24 will be adding more restaurants to the program in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for the opportunity to have your dinner dropped off by a huge white box in the near future.
Would you opt-in to a robot delivery? Let us know in the comments.
- Food Delivery by Autonomous Robots Now a Thing in the Bay Area [ESF]
- Marble [Official Site]