Postmates Testing Robot Delivery In San Francisco

Postmates sidewalk delivery robots are coming to San Francisco, but the autonomous service will have a human escort, TechCrunch reported on Friday (Aug. 16).

With a permit issued by the city this week, the online delivery company will start testing three of its wheeled delivery robots on San Francisco streets in a designated area in and around Potrero Hill and the Inner Mission.

The robots travel at speeds of up to 3 mph and someone has to be on hand within 30 feet of the vehicles. Also under the terms of the permit, deliveries are not allowed before 8 a.m. and after 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, the report said.

Marble, a San Francisco robot-delivery company, has also applied to deliver within city limits.

Dubbed Serve, the Postmates robot is designed as a “friendly-looking” sidewalk rover that guides itself with a combination of cameras and LIDAR (a sensor technology that uses pulses of laser light to detect distances). Serve can haul up to 50 pounds for up to 25 miles on a single charge. The bot was first introduced by Postmates in December of 2018.

The competitive field for autonomous rolling delivery bots is growing continuously, with Amazon getting ready to get its second delivery robot into the field. Amazon’s Scout got its first road test in January in a residential neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington. The six-wheeled bot is about the size of a cooler and designed to roll along pre-programmed routes and respond to obstacles along the way.

“Over the last few months, Amazon Scout has delivered thousands of smiles to customers just outside of Amazon’s headquarters in Washington state. All the while, the devices have safely and autonomously navigated the many obstacles you find in residential neighborhoods — trash cans, skateboards, lawn chairs, the occasional snow blower and more,” the company said in a blog post. “Scout has even made a handful of furry neighborhood friends, like Winter the cat and the excitable Irish terrier Mickey.”

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