Grubub Yanks Yandex Robots From College Campuses
NY Post reports the delivery company is looking for alternatives.
Last week, we asked whether Grubhub would continue using delivery robots from the Russian tech giant Yandex. While they never replied to our inquiries, the NY Post got the skinny last Friday that Grubhub has in fact stopped using Yandex’s robots.
This means that students at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona no longer have access to robot delivery of meals and snacks.
I’ve made this post free because it deals with the tragedy in Ukraine. Full subscribers get access to more news and analysis about the food automation industry.
Grubhub announced its robot delivery deal with Yandex back in August of 2021. The partnership gave Yandex, which had only operated robots in the Russian cities of Moscow and Innopolis, entree into the U.S. market. It also gave Grubhub its first foray into robotic delivery on college campuses, where, according to the Post, it was doing 1,000 deliveries a day.
But Grubhub’s decision to go with Yandex proved problematic once Russia decided to invade Ukraine. As sanctions against Russia increased, and corporations around the world halted doing business with Russian entities, Grubhub must have felt pressure to re-evaluate its relationship with Yandex.
As I wrote last week:
Delivery robots may seem seem trivial now, but as we’ve seen recently, the robot delivery market is heating up and there are a lot of opportunities for startups to gain a first mover advantage and potentially dominate a market. Should Grubhub or any other U.S. restaurant, college or third party delivery service do business with Yandex? Given the severity of Russia’s actions, the broad array of sanctions, and less problematic delivery robot alternatives, the answer seems like it would be “no.”
A spokesperson for Yandex told the NY Post that the company would find uses for its robots elsewhere outside of the U.S..
The good news for Grubhub is that there are plenty of other robo-choices for its college delivery operations: Cartken, Ottonomy, and Delivers AI, to name a few (Starship has its own app/marketplace, so it’s not a good fit; and Kiwibot is hooked up with Sodexo, so that too probably won’t work). Or, Grubhub could be more like its rival delivery service DoorDash and build its own robots (or lease the hardware from Intermode).