Autonomous robots are no longer the stuff of tech enthusiasts' daydreams or sci-fi movies. And apparently they want to bring you curly fries. DoorDash and Marble joined forces with Jack in the Box to test an innovative new service in our city streets: autonomous robot food delivery. This is a whole new level of convenience that is part of Jack in the Box's overarching mission to jettison the quick-service restaurant industry into the future. The robots, which are designed by Marble, are waist-high, four-wheeled machines that resemble a miniature Mars Rover.
Rules governing the use of food delivery robots remain to be seen across the US. But major food businesses are investigating the possibilities already. In the latest deal, Yelp Eat24 has begun testing delivery by robot in partnership with Marble in select San Francisco neighborhoods. TechCrunch spied Marble's delivery robots, stickered with a Yelp Eat24 logo, earlier this month. But the companies announced their robot delivery service officially today.
At least, that's the concept that Kevin Peterson is trying to achieve with his robotics company, Marble. It recently made news for deploying food delivery robots onto the streets of San Francisco. Peterson, Marble's co-founder and software lead, joined this week's AI Podcast to talk about their efforts to integrate AI into the delivery process. Marble's robots, all named "Happy," look like a white boxcar about the size of a mobility scooter. They're complete with a trunk, where it stores packages.
A little more than a month after a startup announced it was unleashing robots to deliver food to San Franciscans, a city lawmaker wants them curbed. Marble's robot is technically semi-autonomous, as a human operator monitors each robot in case it gets in any trouble. But that's not good enough for San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee, who just proposed legislation to ban delivery robots of all types, saying they're a public safety hazard. "For me to wait for something to happen is silly," Yee says, "because I think it's going to happen." Unlike self-driving cars, autonomous delivery robots roll purposefully on sidewalks, detecting the world around them with cameras and lasers.