Postmates is reportedly set to become the be first company to receive approval under the city’s new permit program.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated August 09, 2019
Credit: SOPA Images/Getty Images

The San Francisco Bay Area (Silicon Valley, et al) has long been a hub for the tech industry and, as such, has long been the de facto testing grounds for new innovations. Back in 2017, seeing the growing movement towards autonomous delivery devices (a.k.a. small driverless vehicles puttering around with pizzas or groceries or whatever), San Francisco passed a law that would allow testing of these devices within the city only if the company behind them obtained a permit. And now, for the first time, it appears someone will: Postmates.

The “anything, anytime, anywhere” delivery service Postmates has been “conditionally approved” to be the first company granted one of these Autonomous Delivery Device Testing permits, according to TechCrunch. “We’ve been eager to work directly with cities to seek a collaborative and inclusive approach to robotic deployment that respects our public rights of way, includes community input, and allows cities to develop thoughtful regulatory regimes,” a Postmates rep told the technology site.

In December, Postmates unveiled “Serve” – a yellow and black delivery robot with two circular front lights that look like eyes and give the tiny vehicle an endearing anthropomorphic look. At the time of that announcement, Postmates said that they planned to begin testing of the bots in the Los Angeles area soon, but TechCrunch reports that, as of now, now trials have yet taken place anywhere.

However, Postmates reportedly has continued to develop Serve over the ensuing months, so it would seem likely that if the company does launch a delivery test on the sidewalks of San Francisco, that Serve – which can supposedly carry up to 50 pounds about 30 miles on a single charge – would be involved.

But even if and when Postmates is officially given its permit, don’t expect a fleet of Serves to suddenly be roaming about the city. The permit only allows for the testing of up to three autonomous delivery devices.