The future of transportation is battered and fried, with some gooey cheese stuffed in the middle.
That’s the message in some small autonomous driving developments that have some pretty big consequences. While venture capitalists salivate over sentient transport trucks and robot SUVs that can safely navigate a Boston blizzard, some of the smartest self-driving engineers are making progress flipping chicken sandwiches.
Nuro, with a fleet of self-driving pods that look like giant toasters, started shuttling orders for Domino’s in Houston this week, adding to its freight from Kroger’s and CVS. The partnership was first announced two years ago, with one specific location. But progress is progress.
Kiwibot, a five-year-old startup, unveiled a Star Wars-esque droid that looks like a cooler on wheels. The company has been shuttling burritos and other square-foot-size packages around Berkeley, California, for years, but its newest bot has a killer upgrade: It can go indoors. Airports, malls, hospitals and offices, are all on the table now, according to Chief Operations Officer Diego Varela Prada. The goal, ultimately, is to cut delivery costs and times in half for restaurants, retailers and customers.
“Everyone talks about last-mile delivery, and they don’t really mean last mile. We really mean it — one mile and less in dense, urban areas.” The new Kiwibot will even trundle into elevators.”Diego Varela Prada