Robots have begun to infiltrate the food world on all levels—from replacing farmers in Japan to slinging drinks behind the bar. Now, one of the biggest food delivery companies in Europe wants to supplement their delivery people with—you guessed it—machines.
Just Eat, an app with more than 14 million active users and 64,000 restaurant partners across Europe, will begin testing a small number of self-driving robot delivery men this summer, in hopes of expanding the technology in the future. The company struck a partnership with robot startup Starship Technologies, which created machines that drive themselves at a walking pace and can be unlocked only when the customers' order code is entered, thwarting potential pizza thieves. Starship co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, who previously made their mark on the tech world with their video conversation app Skype, say all robot deliveries will be complete within 30 minutes, and the customer will get periodic smartphone notifications while the machines are en route.
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Starship staff in London and Tallin, Estonia monitor the robots from afar, making sure they're not obstructed by objects—or people—in the road, but for most part the machines operate on their own. According to the founders, in their testing period, which covered nearly 5,000 miles and encountered 400,000 people, there wasn't "a single accident" or theft involving the machines, which weight more than 40 pounds and are equipped with 360-degree cameras.