Concept: American startup Serve Robotics has launched a sidewalk delivery robot for sustainable, self-driving delivery. The startup’s zero-emission rovers aim to serve people in public spaces, starting with food delivery. This technology has the potential to reshape the future of delivery with robots for contactless services.

Nature of Disruption: Serve Robotics’s four-wheel delivery robot can carry up to 50 pounds of merchandise for 25 miles on a single charge. This enables it to make more than a dozen deliveries per day. The robot leverages a sophisticated sensor array with LiDAR and sonar technology to map out the environment for navigating to its destination. It can move through the sidewalk and also cross the street, covering a delivery radius of three miles. Restaurant employees need to load food into its compartment for the customer to collect by entering a code on a touchscreen. Additionally, it can offer better pedestrian safety due to its compact size compared to a traditional vehicle.

Outlook: Most restaurant deliveries in the US are made within a walkable distance and a compact robot has the potential to cover them more efficiently and at a lower cost than a car. Serve Robotics seemingly targets this market by offering delivery robots that can make autonomous sidewalk delivery. This self-driving delivery robot can help merchants save time and costs while improving the customer experience. Uber has partnered with Serve Robotics for autonomous vehicles to deliver orders in Los Angeles, increasing food delivery convenience and sustainability. The robot delivery would be assigned to Uber Eats customers based on availability and location, as stated. The startup has raised $13M in a seed funding round, with participation from Uber Technologies, DX Ventures, 7-Ventures, and Wavemaker Partners. It intends to use the funds to accelerate commercial-scale development of the sidewalk delivery robot, and drive its fleet expansion, geographic growth, and continued product development.

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