Robots from Yandex, a tech giant which is kind of like Russia’s Google, have started making restaurant deliveries in the Russian cities of Moscow and Innopolis, the company announced in a corporate blog post today.
The Yandex.Rover robots are six-wheeled, cooler-sized robots similar to those from Starship and Kiwibot. They work in conjunction with Yandex.Eats, the company’s restaurant and grocery delivery service that has more than 30,000 merchants across 166 cities. Via the YandexEats app, users select their desired restaurant and choose the delivery-robot option to get their food delivered by one of the company’s bots. When the order arrives, recipients unlock the bot with their mobile phone.
Yandex’s blog post didn’t mention how many delivery robots are in its fleet in each city, or how big the service areas are. It did note that its robots are delivering in the White Square district, which is in central Moscow and home to many cafes and restaurants, and that robot delivery is free in Innopolis. Yandex said its robots can also handle inclement weather, which I imagine is an important feature for Russian winters.
The global pandemic has increased interest in robot delivery in part because of its contactless nature. Robots don’t get sick and can theoretically work around the clock. In recent months we’ve seen a number of rover robot deployments in different parts of the world. The City of San Jose partnered with Kiwibot over the summer to enable restaurant delivery. Save Mart in Modesto, California started delivering groceries via Starship’s robots. Pink Dot started making robot deliveries via Postmate’s Serve robot in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles. And in South Korea, Woowa Brothers started making robot deliveries to an apartment complex in Seoul.
As part of its announcement, Yandex said that in addition to delivering restaurant meals, its robots would also be making grocery deliveries in the future.