Updated Aug 12, 2018 - Technology

The food delivery robots hitting a sidewalk near you

A blue and yellow sidewalk robot on the UC Berkeley campus.

A Kiwi sidewalk robot at UC Berkeley. Photo: Kaveh Waddell/Axios

Heading back to Axios' San Francisco office after a meeting with a Berkeley professor, I nearly collided with an icebox-sized tub with wheels and a flagpole, sporting Cal colors.

What it's doing: The sidewalk robot is one of around two dozen that roam UC Berkeley and nearby parts of town, delivering food to students and residents. Kiwi, the Berkeley-based company behind this bot, has already made more than 10,000 deliveries, Techcrunch reports.

The details: Place an order through the Kiwi app from one of the participating restaurants and a robot will be delivered by a human in a car to your area.

  • The bot then picks up multiple orders from different restaurants, and a human packs it into an autonomous tricycle (yep!), which pedals the food toward the delivery location.
  • When it's near your home, the trike deploys the delivery bot, which takes the food the rest of the way, sending a notification when it's arrived. You then unlock the bot with the Kiwi app.
  • The delivery fee is less than $4.00. With Kiwi Prime, $14.99 a month will get you unlimited 99-cent deliveries.

Techcrunch has more in this video:

What's next: Kiwi did not respond to interview requests. But expect more of these bots in more places. They've hit regulatory hurdles in some cities — San Francisco temporarily banned them last year and has not yet issued new permits — but they're popping up in other parts of the region, including San Jose and Stanford, and to the East Coast in D.C. and NYC.

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