Uber has officially spun out its Postmates X division to become its own standalone company now called Serve Robotics. The news was first reported by TechCrunch and confirms rumblings about such a move reported back in January.
Uber acquired Postmates for $2.65 billion last year, which included the Postmates X robotics unit. The Serve delivery robot is an autonomous cooler-sized rover robot currently making deliveries around the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles.
According to TechCrunch, Serve Robotics has raised an undisclosed seed round of funding led by the VC firm Neo, with participation from Uber, Lee Jacobs, Long Journey Ventures, Western Technology Investment and other investors. Serve Robotics will be led by Ali Kashani, who headed up Postmates X, will have 60 employees, and will be headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Los Angeles, and Vancouver, Canada.
Delivery robots like Serve are definitely on the rise as a number of startups come to market around the world. In the U.S. Starship, Kiwibot and Refraction all have robots making deliveries. In Russia there’s Yandex, in South Korea there’s Woowa Brothers, and in Turkey there’s Delivers AI. (For more, check out our Delivery Robot Market Report available to our Spoon Plus members.)
With all these robotic solutions plus other autonomous vehicle options, Uber doesn’t need to have its own full-stack robotic delivery solution. As I wrote last month:
“…as Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi recently explained on Kara Swisher’s Sway podcast, his company is in the networking business. Khosrowshahi doesn’t think Uber needs to create the technology uses, it just needs access to the best technology that allows it to facilitate deliveries and ridesharing. That’s one reason Uber offloaded its autonomous driving unit at the end of last year.”
Additionally, spinning off Serve Robotics means that Uber itself does not need to devote resources to figuring out the patchwork of state, county and city laws when it comes to actually getting commercial autonomous delivery vehicles on public sidewalks and streets. The flip side of that however, is that dealing with this patchwork of regulations is something Serve will have to do on its own.