Another service has officially entered the fray to make us put up with their delivery bots on our sidewalks, and that's Yelp's Eat24, which just launched robot deliveries in the Mission and Potrero neighborhoods as part of a test program. As Consumerist tells us, it's a partnership between Eat24 and robotics startup Marble which Eat24’s Head of Delivery Operations, Shalin Sheth, calls an "experiment."
The Marble robots, which are a bit larger format than the squatter DoorDash robots we first spotted last month, also being tested in SF as well as in Redwood City, and these employ the same LiDAR technology that's used by self-driving cars to constantly scan the environment around them. Also, they join Postmates' Carry robots, which were first spotted on our streets and sidewalks in February.
Even the BBC is excited by all this autonomous delivery stuff.
As TechCrunch notes, as of a couple of weeks ago, users of the Eat24 app have been asked if they're OK with a robot delivering their food, and if they say yes, they're given a pin code that they'll use to open the hatch on the machine once it arrives.
Matt Delaney, CEO and cofounder of Marble, tells TechCrunch at the robots are designed to be "courteous in an urban setting," and he says, "We’re starting with meals, but think our robots will be useful for everything from groceries, to pharmacy and parcel delivery in the long run."
Most of these robot delivery startups seem to say the same thing, that these machines aren't meant to replace human delivery people necessary, but are meant to make companies' operations more efficient by letting the robots do the shorter, simpler deliveries. DoorDash's robots only go on trips of one to two miles, and for now all the robots require human chaperones.
Amusingly, the CEO of the company behind DoorDash's StarShip model robots told BuzzFeed last month that in all their testing so far (mostly in DC), over 20,000 total miles, none of their robots have been stolen or vandalized yet. Let's see what happens when they lose the chaperones.