Yandex Self-Driving Group, a unit of Russian tech company Yandex, has partnered with Grubhub to bring robotic delivery to American college campuses.
Yandex hopes to reach over 250 campuses over the course of the multiyear partnership, starting with dozens of robots in the fall, reported TechCrunch (July 6).
In September 2020, Yandex’s self-driving unit spun out from a joint venture with Uber. As part of the spin-out, Yandex invested $150 million into the business, TechCrunch reported.
The company has been developing full-sized autonomous vehicle technology since 2019, which it has tested in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as in Russia via its robo-taxi fleet. It first began public deliveries on its six-wheeled, 150-lb. robot, the Yandex Rover, last April in Russia.
Last May, Yandex clocked a total of 7 million autonomous miles, which was more than Waymo, an American autonomous driving technology company, at the time.
“The technology is definitely very complicated, but we can see that it has already reached the level when it can start being deployed either in the form of delivery robots or robo-taxi services in small towns or specific districts of big cities,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch, adding that they could envision their robots operating effectively in larger cities, like New York, within 3 years.
COMMERCIALIZATION WITH GRUBHUB
The brand’s robots have already been tested commercially in Russia. The robots, which move at three to five miles per hour, are ideal for campus areas not accessible by car, according to the company.
The service has already been fully integrated into the Grubhub app. However, the company told TechCrunch it has not yet branded its robots to reflect the Grubhub partnership, so it is questionable whether its goal of getting dozens of vehicles out this fall is too much of a reach.
OTHER BIG PLAYERS USING AUTOMATION
Bigger players in the U.S. will also start using automation sooner than you might think. For example, El Pollo Loco recently announced the launch of its drone delivery test starting June 24, reported Forbes (June 17).
Additionally, Domino’s rolled out a robot car delivery service to select customers in Houston months ago, reported CNN (April 13). The chain’s pizzas arrive in a fully autonomous vehicle made by Nuro.