Postmates unveils cute Wall-E lookalike robot that can autonomously deliver lunch to your doorstep
- Roving robot has a password-protected latch that opens for users to grab items
- Four-wheeled 'Serve' robot equipped with LIDAR and cameras to help it navigate
- Postmates is launching Serve in Los Angeles before expanding to other cities
Your next Starbucks latte might be delivered by an adorable roving robot.
Postmates, the food and grocery delivery company, has debuted its new autonomous delivery robot, named 'Serve.'
The four-wheeled rover closely resembles a brightly colored cooler, except it has huge, saucer-shaped eyes and an array of cameras meant to help it navigate the streets.
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Your next latte might be delivered by an adorable roving robot. Postmates, the food and grocery delivery company, has debuted its new autonomous delivery robot, named 'Serve'
WHAT IS POSTMATES?
Postmates is a food and grocery delivery service that brings items to your doorstep.
The service will deliver from a variety of restaurants and businesses not available on apps like GrubHub or Seamless, such as McDonald's.
Accepts late-night deliveries 24/7, 365 days out of the year.
About 4 million deliveries are placed each month in over 550 cities.
For now, Postmates will dispatch the first Serve robots in Los Angeles before it plans to roll out more robots in several cities across the U.S. over the next year.
The firm says Serve will replace human deliverymen when items only need to be delivered short distances, such as a couple blocks around the corner.
When a user places an order, a Serve might be dispatched and show up at their door.
From there, they'll either enter a code on the device's touchscreen or use their phone to unlock the latch at the top of the device.
They simply reach in, grab their food item and then Serve is on its way.
Serve is 'all-electric,' can carry a payload of up to 50lbs and can travel up to 30 miles on a single charge.
The Serve robots closely remember Disney's Wall-E, featuring huge, saucer-like eyes. A touchscreen on top of the device acts as a way for customers to interact with it
The robot uses a combination of cameras and LIDAR technology to get around town.
'Using Lidar and the most advanced sensors of any automated delivery rover, Serve creates a virtual picture of the world in real time,' Postmates explained.
'An interactive touch screen is a part of how Serve communicates.'
It also moves at 'walking speed' so as to not get in anyone's way while rolling down the sidewalk.
There's several flashing strips of LED along the sides of the device that act as turn signals and will flash if it changes directions.
A touchscreen on top of the device acts as a way for customers to interact with it.
Serve is meant to appear human-like, with huge eyes that blink and it'll even play music like a pseudo-ice cream truck.
Postmates said the Serve robots will replace human deliverymen when items only need to be delivered short distances, such as a couple blocks around the corner
Even though the robot is semi-autonomous, a human is always monitoring the device from a remote area and is able to take over operating Serve at any time using a game controller
The display is equipped with video chat software in case of an emergency, while a 'Help' button on the device can also be triggered if a user has a question.
Even though it's semi-autonomous, a human is always monitoring the device from a remote control room and is able to take over operating Serve at any time using a game controller.
Postmates created Serve with the community and regulators in mind. It faces stricter regulations in cities like San Francisco, where tech companies must obtain a permit before they can test robots on the streets.
The firm describes Serve as a 'respectful member of the community' that yields to pedestrians and won't hog the sidewalk.
'Serve safely walks alongside pedestrians, navigates around fire hydrants, and respects our sidewalks,' Postmates said.
The firm said it hopes Serve will help cut costs and save time on deliveries.
And in the future, Postmates envisions even more capabilities for the roving robot.
'It could patrol the neighborhood,' Bastian Lehmann, Postmates' co-founder and CEO, told Wired.
'Or you could use it for evil things, like it could write parking tickets.'
WHAT ARE STARSHIP TECHNOLOGIES' DELIVERY ROBOTS?
The London-based company was created by Skype's Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis in 2014.
The slow-moving delivery bots have already been trialled across the world, including in Hamburg, Washington and California, delivering everything from groceries to takeout pizza.
They have travelled more than 100,000 miles in testing mode in more than 100 cities in 20 different countries.
Unlike robots designed to resemble humans, Starship's bot is purely functional with a large compartment to hold deliveries, the equivalent size of two grocery bags.
Each six-wheeled 'ground drone' is completely self-driving.
Workers can drop a pin on a map (like Uber) to show their location and then select what food they want to order.
Each vehicle is 55cm (22 inches) high by 70cm (28 inches) long.
It has a secured compartment where parcels with a maximum weight of 10kg (22 pounds) can be transported, accessible to consumers via a link generated by a smartphone app.
They have six wheels and can travel at speeds up to 4mph (6.4kmh) per hour.
The company plans to distribute thousands of robots across campuses around the world by 2019.