You know what you can look forward to in 2019? More robots (but more on that in a later post). Case in point: delivery service Postmates announced today that it has developed its own autonomous delivery rover that will be hitting sidewalks next year.
Dubbed Serve, the li’l robot is a bright yellow square-shaped box with big lighted eyes on four wheels, and was built in-house by Postmates’ R&D department. According to press materials, Serve:
- Uses an array of sensors, including Lidar
- Can carry 50 pounds
- Goes 30 miles on a single charge
- Has an interactive touchscreen with a camera
- Communicates through dynamic lighting in its eyes and a light ring on top to signal a change in direction when moving
Postmates says that in addition to delivery directly to consumers, “Serve can work in congested city centers and bring food/goods from several merchants to one centralized location where our fleet of drivers, bikers and even walkers can take those batched goods and complete the delivery in a more efficient way.”
While Postmates said that Serve will be, err, rolled out in Los Angeles, the company was mum on further details about how many robots will be deployed, as well as when they will be deployed, other than saying over the next twelve months.
Will having its own robots help Postmates stand out in the crowded world of food delivery? More than $3.5 billion has been invested in food delivery startups alone this year. For its part, Postmates has raised $578 million, but rival DoorDash has raised $971 million, and has used robots from Marble for delivery before, and, FWIW, was looking to produce more “moonshots” like robots in-house.
Speaking of Marble, it’s worth noting that Postmates decided to build its own robot rather than partner with a third-party like Kiwi or Starship or Marble. Kiwi is making deliveries in Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, while Starship is now delivering packages and goods on campuses in Silicon Valley and groceries the U.K. Without seeing any numbers, the cost associated with maintaining a fleet of ‘bots must have looked more attractive than sharing or adding to delivery fees with an outside robot provider.
Postmates’ Serve may be the last food robot-related announcement we get this year, but it’s just the beginning of the robot news sure to come in 2019. (Seriously, stay tuned for a post on that!)