On-demand delivery service Postmates recently introduced Serve, an autonomous delivery vehicle.
Serve is the “first robotic delivery device created from the ground up by an on-demand delivery company,” according to a company blog post. The system combines a patented Socially-Aware-Navigation system with the proprietary Postmates software.
Serve is designed to work alongside the existing Postmates fleet to move small objects over short distances. The device runs on electricity and travels at walking speed. It has the ability to take deliveries away from congested streets and onto sidewalks.
Serve is equipped with advanced sensors such as Velodyne LiDAR and the NVIDIA XAVIER processor. It can carry 50 pounds and travel up to 30 miles on one charge. Customers are able to interact with Serve using a touchscreen and cameras. The device features lighting in the eyes and a light ring on top that enables it to signal movement, such as a change in direction.
Serve will make it possible for the company’s existing fleet to complete more deliveries. A Postmate won’t have to drive through a dense urban area looking for parking, for example. Instead, Serve can pick up orders and transport them a few blocks to a Postmate that’s away from traffic and areas with limited parking.
Postmates has tested delivery routes on sidewalks across various states, with the goal to help retailers sell more during peak periods and to reduce car congestion. The company also has tested prototypes at senior living communities in Northern California where Serve is “learning to operate with people in mind while refining its Social-Aware-Navigation technology to respect our elderly or disabled neighbors on sidewalks that people use daily.”
“By developing an in-house, design-first approach, Serve was built to respect cities, meet customer demands, and help local businesses sell even more,” according to the blog post. “By leveraging data to model the modern way in which food and goods move around our cities, we were able to identify even greater efficiencies when we augmented our existing fleet of more than 350,000 Postmates with rovers — with the eventual vision to move those goods at zero cost.”