Robots, as we have noted, can work longer hours and haul more stuff than people can. But robots can also bring animosity to a community who may not appreciate potential jobs being lost, or having cooler-sized vehicles scurrying around sidewalks.
That is why Kiwi co-founder and CEO, Felipe Chavez, works just as hard on building empathy as he does building robots.
Kiwi currently has 50 robots making food deliveries, mostly around the University of California, Berkeley, which Chavez describes as “a war zone” for robots. There is a large homeless population, heavy anti-technology sentiment, and, of course, drunk college students. All of which could spell trouble for the cute li’l robots.
One of the reasons other robot delivery companies have run into trouble, especially in San Francisco, which enacted strict regulation around delivery robots, is because those companies didn’t respect the sidewalk. Early robots were large and took up a lot of space, making it tricky for pedestrians.
Kiwi, on the other hand, focuses on making smaller, more easily appealing robots. They sport cute LCD screen “face” in an attempt to build empathy with people, and there’s even a “How’s my programming?” sticker complete with Chavez’s personal phone number on the robots.
I sat down with Chavez at the recent FOOD IT conference in San Francisco, where we talked more about human-robot relations, the specs on Kiwi’s three robots, and the company’s business model.
For more in-depth conversations about food tech, check out all of our video chats from the FOOD IT show and our Smart Kitchen Summits.