Grubhub and Russian self-driving startup Yandex are teaming up to use robots to deliver food to US college campuses. It represents the latest deal that envisions hundreds of six-wheeled self-driving robots that essentially act as lunchboxes in cities across the country.
The robot-powered delivery service will not start until college students are back on campus. Yandex, often described as the Google of Russia, will operate the robots, as well as handle the entire food delivery process. Grubhub, which has partnerships with over 250 college campuses in the US, will serve as the platform for delivery transactions.
Grubhub cited cost savings by removing the delivery worker from the equation as a potential benefit from the deal with Yandex — though neither company disclosed the financial terms of the partnership. Brian Madigan, Vice President of Corporate and Campus, said, “We are excited to offer these cost-effective, scalable and instant food ordering and delivery capabilities to colleges and universities across the country that seek to adapt to the unique dining needs of students. ” Partners in Grubhub, in a statement.
Yandex says its delivery robots can navigate sidewalks, pedestrian areas and crosswalks, and reach campus areas that aren’t accessible by car. “Such functionality enables robots to handle delivery tasks traditionally performed by people and provides efficient last-mile logistics automation,” the company says.
Robotic food delivery is nothing new in America. Several startups are operating delivery robots of varying sizes—everything from perfectly sized minivans like udelvi For robots that look almost the same as Yandex like amazon and starship. Postmates Has a Delivery Robot Called Serv Which can carry 50 pounds of cargo. there are some like noro, which has what can best be described as a mini-robot car that falls somewhere in between. All claim to be autonomous, but some require a human monitor to track their movements.
Demand for delivery robots has skyrocketed since the pandemic, though it remains to be seen if the economy reopens and fewer people rely on takeout from restaurants.
Delivery services see the use of robots as one of the many ways they can cut labor costs and drive profitability. Earlier this year, DoorDash acquired salad-making robot startup Chowbotix. But most are stuck in the experimental stage, with companies unclear on how to scale up the use of these automated assistants.