Kiwibot and Cartken Deliver Signs of Life in Delivery Robots
This year has been a lot of things. Crazy. Nerve-wracking. Sometimes even joyous.
But it has not been a big year for food robots.
That’s not to say it’s been a bad year for foot robots (though there was definitely bad news to be found) — just more of a neutral one. There were some gains, but incremental.
So quel suprise when over the past two weeks there has been some, well, not huge news, but two stories about two different delivery robot startups that at least point in a positive direction.
First up, Kiwibot and Grubhub announced they would be rolling out robot food delivery to college campuses across the United States. The partnership is starting with the University of North Dakota and expanding to more schools next semester.
Kiwibot wasn’t done, though! This week the robot delivery startup announced a new program to provide higher-autonomy robot delivery on the campus of Loyola Marymount University in California. Kiwibot had been doing deliveries at LMU for the past year, but this agreement outfits the campus with self-driving robots, as opposed to the human-guided (not teleoperated) navigation Kiwibot normally does.
But Kiwibot wasn’t the only robot startup delivering news this week.
Cartken announced today that Uber Eats will be using Cartken robot delivery services for food delivery in Miami. According to the press announcement, “Starting today, Uber and Cartken will begin operating with select merchants in the Dadeland area of Miami-Dade County with plans to expand in Miami-Dade and to additional cities in 2023.” The press release went on to say “Uber’s partnership with Cartken is an expansion of the company’s efforts to use automated and autonomous technology to unlock greater innovation for consumers and merchant partners in Miami and beyond.”
So that’s the news. Here are some of the dots you should connect when thinking about these news bits:
Grubhub is also using Cartken for college deliveries! It’s also using Starship’s robots. Triple robot dip! But that’s okay. It makes sense for Grubhub to go with multiple robot delivery partners. Grubhub offers food delivery to 250 college campuses and no one robot startup can field enough hardware at scale immediately or in the near future.
Uber Eats is also using Serve Robotics for robot delivery! To be fair, Uber is an investor in Serve, so it has an inside track/incentive. But part of the reason Uber spun Serve out was so that it could pick and choose robot delivery partners to work with. And just like Grubhub, if Uber Eats wants to expand robot delivery, it will need multiple robot partners.
Nvidia is an investor in Serve Robotics, and Kiwibot made a point of calling out Nvidia’s technology in its autonomous driving robot announcement today.
Kiwibot had been working on an automated end-to-end store+delivery with StoreXapp on the campus of LMU over a year ago. Students could place an order and a robotic arm would load the goods into a rover bot to make the delivery.
Sodexo is an investor in Kiwibot, which along with Grubhub gives the robot startup now two entrées, as it were to the college market.
Anyhoo. While it’s not HUGE, all this activity is more good news for food and beverage bots as we close out this crazy, nerve-wracking year.
Quick editorial note: Publishing may be a little sporadic over the next couple o’ weeks with OttOmate on account of the holiday season. Thanks for your patience and thanks for being a subscriber! Hope you have a great end of the year because you deserve it.
Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ‘90 rulez.