JustEat is now delivering takeout with self-driving robots in the UK
The robots will serve you now: Greenwich, London residents have officially begun receiving deliveries from autonomous, six-wheeled rolling cooler bots, which are handling the “last mile” of food delivery from nearby takeout restaurants. Engadget notes that the robots are now in “active service,” after they completed a previous testing phase which began earlier this year.
Before you ask, these bots are designed to be tamper-proof, so passers-by won’t just smell your delicious delivery curry and crack one open to score an unpaid meal. Also, in case you wanted to request one for selfie opportunities, you’re out of luck – they’re assigned at random, and not available via specific request while ordering from Just Eat even if you happen to live in their Greenwich operating area.
When I previously spoke to Starship Technologies, the startup co-founded by Skype vets Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis that’s providing the bots for this delivery service, the company told me part of its testing was about finding out how humans would react to seeing the bots rolling down their sidewalks. Seems like in Greenwich, at least, they’ve been pleased with the results – the plan is to continue expanding the number of these terrestrial drones in service in the area, with other parts of London getting their own robots next year.
Starship’s robots aren’t just operating across the pond – they’ve been approved for a trial in Washington, D.C. and also got temporary permit to test in San Francisco earlier this year.