Words matter. That’s a lesson I hope robot delivery startup learned earlier this week when it sent out an email saying “We want to let you know that we will be ending the Kiwibot delivery service, effective December 15, 2019.“
We weren’t sure exactly what that meant, and after a full day of confusion and multiple explanatory emails from the company, it turns out it wasn’t the END end for Kiwi. It was just stopping service for the winter. (Sidenote: Don’t skimp on a copywriter.)
The company then said it would be announcing its reinvention yesterday, which it did towards the close of business with a corporate blog post. Kiwi had already shared some details from this “reinvention” earlier in the week: the company has changed its name to “Kiwibot,” there’s a new, more rugged robot on the way (see video below), and something called Kiwi Express promises to be the “First end to end robotic Food delivery service.”
Yesterday’s blog post added a few details:
In 2020, we will roll out Kiwibot Cloud Pro. A new generation is coming. Refined hardware design, new operations features, and superior human interactions will transform the logistics landscape and yield better service.
We combine sensors of a custom made stereo camera to get more information about the environment. Our Kiwibots will sense the world more accurately and move more precisely. Our Kiwibots are now resilient to dynamic light conditions on different sidewalks.
In addition to the new technology, this new Kiwibot is also more rugged, which will make it less likely to get stuck (and need a human’s help).
On Kiwibot’s website, the company says that its robots can now interact with vending machines. At first blush, this might seem like overkill to have a robot pick you up a Snickers bar from the lobby vending machine because you are too lazy to walk down there. But vending machines are changing and turning into something more akin to small restaurants. Companies like Yo-Kai Express serve hot ramen from vending machines, and Cafe X is re-classifying its coffee robot as a vending machine. So being early to integrate its robot with those types of systems now makes a lot of sense for Kiwi.
It’s nice to know that Kiwi isn’t shutting down. While there are still a lot of issues to work out, I’m still a big believer in robot delivery. More players in the space means more competition and more innovation.
Now Kiwi just needs fewer wording mistakes.