US-based robotics startup Refraction AI has launched a food delivery service from restaurants to customers through its self-driving robot REV-1 in Ann Arbor area.
Among the participating restaurants are Miss Kim, Belly Deli, Tios Mexican Cafe and Chow Asian Street Food.
To be part of this pilot initiative, customers need to sign up online, following which they will receive instructions on how to place a lunchtime delivery.
The food will be delivered straight to the curb by the autonomous robot.
This food delivery service is being offered to customers within a 2.5-mile radius from downtown Ann Arbor.
Upon the placement of the order, customers would receive a code and delivery notifications and once the robot arrives, they will have to meet the machine at the curb following which they can unlock the door for their order.
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This technology was developed by University of Michigan engineering professors and founders of the firm, Matt Johnson-Roberson and Ram Vasudevan.
The founders intend to extend this service to other cities across the country, though they did not specify the timeframe.
Johnson-Roberson said: “We’re thrilled to introduce this one-of-a-kind robot delivery service to the Ann Arbor community, and eventually, to more cities nationwide.”
The 100-pound three-wheeled self-driving robot operates on road or bike lanes. Equipped with 12 cameras and sensors, it navigates by scanning the buildings, trees, road features such as potholes and snow-covered lanes.
It is 5ft tall, 4.5ft long and 30 inches wide and can travel at a speed of up to 15 miles every hour.
Within it, the robot can hold four or five food delivery bags.
Backed by eLab Ventures and Trucks Venture Capital, the company, which is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was launched in July 2019.