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Date:15/12/18

Postmates has created a robot to speed up and automate its deliveries

Postmates, the food and grocery delivery company that operates across 550 cities in the US, has announced an autonomous delivery robot called Serve. This small robot can carry 50 pounds of cargo and has a range of 30 miles, which Postmates claims gives it the capacity to handle around a dozen deliveries per day. The initial aim is to be able to make deliveries much more quickly by avoiding traffic by traveling on the sidewalk. Ultimately, it hopes to cut out the emissions of the cars and motorcycles that many of Postmates’ 350,000 couriers currently use.
 
Serve uses Velodyne LIDAR sensors and a Nvidia Xavier processor to navigate and avoid obstacles as it makes deliveries directly to people’s homes. It’s also able to make visual cues to help it weave between pedestrians on the sidewalk and vehicles as it crosses roads. A light ring on its top acts as a set of turn signals, while a pair of eyes on its front aims to give more subtle hints to passersby about which direction the robot might be heading in next. If things go wrong, a small touchscreen on the top of the bot can be used to make a video call for assistance, although the robots will also be supervised remotely.
 
Delivery robots are far from commonplace, but Serve will nevertheless have some competition when it launches. Most notably, Starship — which piloted making Postmates deliveries last year — is already making regular deliveries in Milton Keynes in the UK, and it has conducted tests in Washington, DC.
 
Postmates will initially launch the Serve in the Los Angeles area before it intends to roll the delivery robot out in “key cities” across the United States over the next 12 months. Pricing of these autonomous deliveries is yet to be announced, but Postmates has said that its intention is to make deliveries at “nearly zero cost to consumers.”



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