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Coco Teams Up with Segway for New Delivery Robot
The partnership brings up the build-or-buy your own robot question.
Los Angeles-based delivery service Coco announced today its new COCO 1 delivery robot. While the new robot features a larger cargo bay, bigger battery and more efficient drivertrain, the real story is who’s making it — Segway.
Instead of building their own hardware, as Coco did with its first 100 “Coco Zero” robots, the company has partnered with famed mobility company Segway to do the manufacturing. Coco will deploy 1,000 Segway-made COCO 1s to multple cities over the next few months (with another 1,200 on order).
This brings up the should-you-build-or-buy-your-own-robot question that we talked about last week when we learned about DoorDash’s patents for its own
Speed Buggy delivery robot. We don’t know if DoorDash is still developing its own robots, but the key here is scale, and what business a delivery startup wants to be in.
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Segway’s manufacturing capacity can deliver those 2,200 robots faster than Coco could on its own. Handing off the robot building (and QA) takes advantage of what Segway is good at, and allows Coco to focus on its own delivery and logistics software and do all the biz dev work to line up restaurant and grocery partners.
My guess is we’ll see more deals like this as ramping up production of hardware can be a daunting task for a young delivery startup. Sure, if you vertically integrate your own robot into delivery stack, you can eek some some greater efficiencies and control more of your data. But hardware is hard and delivery robots are going to turn into a commodity. Delivery startups need to ask what business they want to be in.
Maybe DoorDash will make their own robots — maybe they won’t. Uber decided to get out of the robot biz when it spun out Serve Robotics earlier this year.
Segway isn’t the only company peddling robots to upstart delivery companies. Over in the Detroit area Intermode builds customizeable delivery robots for other delivery startups as well.
As for the COCO 1 itself, the new version has a new drivetrain, larger delivery radius thanks to the larger battery, and multiple cameras and sensor too help teleoperators drive the robot. The larger cargo bay also allows Coco to branch into the grocery categrory as it can hold four full bags of food. The COCO 1 will kick off delivery at the Erewhon Market health foods store in L.A.