Food and grocery delivery company Postmates has been given the first permit in San Francisco to test sidewalk delivery robots, according toTechCrunch, paving the way for the company to test theServe autonomous delivery robotit announced in December.
The permit will let Postmates, which isavailable in 3,500 cities, expand into a new method of transportation for deliveries.Postmates claimsthat the electricity-powered robot, which has Velodyne LIDAR sensors and an Nvidia Xavier processor, can carry 50 lbs and travel 30 miles on a single battery charge.
San Francisco Public Worksrules say that permits are valid for 180 days, that each permittee can test up to three autonomous delivery devices, and that each robot being tested must have a human operator within 30 feet for the duration of testing. As a result, you aren’t going to see hordes of autonomous delivery robots on the sidewalks of San Francisco just yet. Postmates said in December that it initially planned to roll out the robot in the Los Angeles area and bring it to “key cities” across the US, but according toTechCrunch, no other pilots have been announced.
Postmates isn’t the first company to test sidewalk delivery robots. Starship Technologies’ robotic devices arealready makingdeliveries in the UK, and the companypartnered with Postmatesto test deliveries in the US in 2017. With intense competition in delivery services from Amazon, DoorDash, Grubhub, Starship, and others, Postmates is looking to autonomous deliveries to help make its fleet more efficient and win over customers.