Coco, a teleoperated robot delivery service, announced today that it has raised a Series A round of funding led by Sam Altman, Silicon Valley Bank and Founder’s Fund.
Launched a year ago, Coco makes a four-wheeled, cooler-sized robot that delivers food and beverages. Coco prepositions its robot at merchant locations in dense city environments, and advertises that it completes deliveries in 30 minutes or less.
Unlike other delivery robots like those from Starship and Yandex, Coco’s robots are not self-driving and are instead piloted remotely. As with Tortoise, another teleoperated delivery robot, by foregoing autonomy, Coco can get to market faster because it doesn’t have to deal with the same state and city regulations around self-driving vehicles.
According to the company’s Careers page, those driving the robots are called “Coconauts,” and Coco is currently hiring remote drivers for Hawaii, Nevada, and Texas. Responsibilities include “Remotely drive a robot: carefully and responsibly” and “Follow a map to and from your destinations.” Under Qualifications, Coco asks that you have a “Reliable, high-speed internet connection,” and “Experience playing racing video games” (hopefully not just Mario Kart).
Coco is raising money at the right time as the food and restaurant world is accelerating its interest in robots and automation. Sweetgreen just acquired the robot restaurant Spyce, and 800 Degrees Pizza will launch 3,600 Piestro-powered robot pizza making vending machines over the next five years.
Robot delivery itself is poised to take off. As Ali Kashani, Co-Founder and CEO of robot delivery company Serve likes to say — you don’t need a two-ton car on the road to deliver a taco. With their smaller footprint, delivery robots can help ease congestion on the road by removing unnecessary full-sized delivery cars. With its new funding, Coco will be able to get its robots on the sidewalks (and provide humans with “driving” gigs), and scale up to more cities sooner than some of its competition.