Yelp’s Eat24 food delivery service is making it easier for some users who want to avoid interacting with humans as much as possible, deploying robots in San Francisco to bring food to customers.
The fleet of bots will pick up food from restaurants in the Mission and Potrero Hill neighborhoods and navigate the streets using on-board lidar, cameras, and sensors to bring it to Eat24 customers living nearby, reports TechCrunch.
Customers will have the option when they’re ordering — either through the site or the app — to have a robot deliver their food. If they say okay to it, a PIN code is sent to their phone that can be used to unlock the robot’s cargo hold when the delivery arrives. Customers grab the food, close the door, and the robot will trundle back home to Marble or to another restaurant.
While the plan is to eventually modify the delivery robots to be rolling ovens or refrigerators to keep food at temperature, for now Marble is using Eat24 heat bags to keep food warm.
Yelp’s partnership with Marble is an experiment for the moment, Eat24’s Head of Delivery Operations, Shalin Sheth tells TechCrunch.
“People running restaurants are going to want to know, should I start using technologies like this as they come online?” he said. “We need to have answers for them. We need to figure out what works.”
Of course, this is not the first time we’ve heard of delivery robots: DoorDash and Postmates both deployed robot delivery guys earlier this year, in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., respectively. Those bots are made by one of Marble’s competitors, Starship Technologies.