These cute robots are now delivering pizza to Austin, Texas


This article was originally published by Sarah Wray on Cities Today, the leading information platform on urban mobility and innovation, reaching an international audience of city leaders. For the latest updates, follow Cities Today on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube, or subscribe to Cities Today News.

Start-up Refraction AI has launched a pilot program with ten of its REV-1 delivery robots in Austin, Texas.

The service was launched with Southside Flying Pizza for deliveries to the South Congress, Downtown and Travis Heights areas of the city, with the potential to grow as more businesses join. we.

Three-wheeled electric devices, which travel up to 15 mph and are remotely controlled, will work in cycle lanes or on the street where cycle lanes are not available. Assistants drive nearby to ensure safety.

Delivery vehicles are described as “approximately the size of a person on a bicycle” measuring 1.37 m high (4.5 feet), 1.37 m (4.5 feet) long and 76 cm (30 inches) wide, and can hold about six grocery bags.

“Collaborating with innovators in this space gives us the opportunity to learn more about robotic delivery and its benefits to the community as we continually work to improve our transportation ecosystem,” said Gina Fiandaca, Austin’s deputy director for mobility. “We believe that better access to robotic last mile delivery will lead to a greener future with safer and less congested streets, and we are excited to take advantage of the technology as we continue to prioritize the both sustainability and equity. “

No city funding goes into the pilot.


Vehicle operations in Austin are guided by state legislation, as well as resolutions voted by the city council.

Jacob Culberson, Division Manager, Mobility Services, City of Austin, said Cities today: “The city’s responsibility is always safety.

The city worked with Refraction AI before the launch, including making sure the robots follow the rules for lighting, braking, etc. and demonstrating them to the fire and police departments.

Austin also sought comment from the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Refraction AI’s robots operate. since December 2019.

“Refraction AI has been great working with us to bring this together… and we are confident that [the devices] are safe, ”Culberson said.

One day at a time

Austin Department of Transportation announces robots on social networks sparked a wave of questions from local residents, including some concerns regarding the use of the cycle lanes.

“If we can reduce the number of single-person vehicles by replacing them with small electric vehicles which pose much less risk to the people around them than traditional motor vehicles, then I think that’s a victory.” Culberson said, adding that due to their size and speed, “I think there will be little interference with our riders. “

Devices are required by state law to stop and give way to all other traffic, including bicycles and pedestrians. According to Refraction AI, the REV-1 has “the shortest stopping distance of any device on the road.”

Culberson says the city will take things “one day at a time” and could develop local regulations if necessary, as it has done with electric scooters.

There is no formal data sharing requirement for the pilot, but Refraction AI has agreed to share some data points with the city. Residents are also encouraged to report any issues to the 311 service.

“Over the past year, it has become increasingly evident that our current on-demand delivery solutions are failing; local businesses and households are struggling to keep up with rising fees while profitability remains elusive even for the biggest players, ”said Luke Schneider, CEO of Refraction AI, launched in 2019.“ Our expansion to Austin marks another step in our vision. to transform last mile delivery into a ubiquitous, accessible and sustainable service that everyone can participate in.

Starship Technologies also ran a short pilot project with sidewalk delivery robots in Austin in 2017.

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