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Food Delivery Via Autonomous Robots Has Rolled Into Miami

The future is here

robot on green lawn with trailer in the back on grass
The robots on the streets of Miami
Reef Technologies/Official Press Photo

Miami-based startup Reef Technology and robotics startup Cartken have partnered up to bring electric-powered delivery robots to Miami. The robots now deliver dinner orders from Reef’s network of delivery-only kitchens to recipients located within a 3/4-mile radius in Downtown Miami. They plan to expand the robots to other neighborhoods in the following weeks.

“The rising demand for delivery has created a bottleneck during peak dining hours that slows efficiency,” said Matt Lindenberger, chief technology officer at Reef. “We’re looking at our robot delivery service as a long-term solution that can advance the delivery ecosystem by offering speed, quality, and scale while reducing congestion and carbon emission.”

So how does it work, exactly? Customers who order from a Reef vendor using either Postmates, UberEats, DoorDash, or GrubHub may be prompted with the option of a robot delivery. When the robot arrives at a house or apartment building, it waits outside and sends a text message alerting the customer that the delivery has arrived, typically within 30 minutes or less. While it makes its delivery, the robot’s compartment is locked so that no one but the recipient can access the food.

While this technology was designed to make short-distance deliveries of small orders more efficient, along with helping to reduce road congestion and pollution, it hasn’t been without controversy. In other markets where similar technologies have debuted like San Fransisco, local lawmakers tried to ban the concept years ago by saying the robots took jobs away from citizens and could cause a safety hazard on busy streets when pedestrians wouldn’t be able to move out of the robot’s way fast enough.

The robots are now delivering orders from Reef’s Miami partner brands including Della Bowls, Krispy Rice, Genuine Burger, Fuku, Mamma Parmigiana, BurgerFi, Michy B’s, Van Leeuwen, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, and more.

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