Self-driving robot buggies started delivering restaurant orders to customers in central Moscow this week. Russian Internet giant Yandex is operating the service.
Its Yandex.Eats app, one of several food and grocery delivery services in Moscow, is offering customers around the White Square business district the option of having meals delivered by a buggy-like delivery robot.
The suitcase-sized vehicle, called the Yandex.Rover, can autonomously navigate its way along delivery routes on city sidewalks at a walking pace. It can recognize objects, plan the route, stop for pedestrians or animals, and avoid obstacles. Thanks to its lidar, the robot can even move confidently in the dark.
Rovers have been delivering groceries in some Moscow areas as part of a pilot program since autumn and are now gradually expanding their operating area.
According to Yandex, Rover picks up orders from restaurants and brings them to the customer, who can track their orders via the app. Then they just have to unlock the robot using their smartphone and lift out the food. Three such Rovers (part of a city-wide fleet of 20 robots) are now operating in the White Square area, it said.
Demand for delivery services has been steadily growing and also accelerated during the pandemic, said Dmitry Polishchuk, CEO of Yandex’s Self-Driving Group.
“We have adapted our existing technologies for new challenges and a new vehicle with a different set of sensors… I believe robots like this will have a variety of applications in the near future. They can, for example, become indispensable for the ‘last mile’ delivery,” Polishchuk said earlier.
According to the company, the Rovers will also help essential employees to practice social distancing by being assigned tasks such as delivering mail to the local post office.
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