Just Eat delivers world’s first online takeaway order by autonomous robot

A Just Eat customer in London has become the first person in the world to have their online takeaway food order delivered by an autonomous, self-driving robot.

The order of falafel and lamb cutlets from Turkish restaurant, Taksim Meze, was the first meal to be delivered by the self-driving robot, arriving at the doorstep of a surprised customer in Greenwich, south-east London, as part of a pilot programme to explore the feasibility of the robot delivery system.

Just Eat has partnered with Starship Technologies, which designed and manufactured the six-wheel pavement droid. After five months of testing in the area, the first live commercial delivery is the next step, with more local Just Eat customers set to receive automated robot deliveries in Greenwich. The plan is to expand the programme across London during 2017.

When the customer, Simone, placed her order online with Taksim Meze, restaurant manager Ana Maria Stingaciu requested that a robot make the delivery. A local robot travelled to the restaurant while the meal was being prepared. The order was then placed securely in the robot’s cargo hold. Simone received a text message to let her know that her order was on its way and ten minutes later, she received a second text message with a unique link that opened the cargo hold of the robot, now waiting patiently at her door.

Simone said, “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened the door to find a robot waiting to greet me. It is really incredible to think that this kind of technology and service is now available. It was very efficient and actually texted me when it pulled up. The only thing I wasn’t sure of was whether or not to tip!”

Graham Corfield, UK managing director at Just Eat, commented, “We are delighted to add robot home delivery to the Just Eat service. We have been working closely with Starship Technologies for many months to ensure that we can seamlessly integrate this exciting technology with our restaurant partners, customers and online booking service. Now that we are live in Greenwich, we’re working towards a larger rollout of the pilot programme across London in the New Year.”

Customers are not yet able to select robot delivery when they place their order, but Greenwich residents who order a takeaway online through Just Eat will increasingly be served by the technology as the service expands.

Starship Technologies is building a fleet of autonomous robots designed to deliver goods locally within a three-mile radius. The robots drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take over control at any time. The company was launched in July 2014 by two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis.

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