Pizza fans in in Austin can now get their pies delivered by Refraction AI’s bike-lane robots.
A fleet 10 REV-1 bots are making deliveries for Austin institution Southside Flying Pizza. Customers in three Austin neighborhoods can place orders with the restaurant and meet the bot at their curb as of this week.
The robots, as Food On Demand has previously covered, stand nearly 5 feet tall and can drive in the road or, preferably, in a bike lane. They can reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. The vehicle essentially sits in between roadway bots like Nuro and sidewalk-based bots like Starship and Kiwibot.
Customers can order from just one participating restaurant, choose robotic delivery, and then get a text with a code. The customers meet the robots at their curb, enter that code and remove their food. The price in Austin was not disclosed, but historically, the company charged a flat delivery fee of $7.50. Restaurants can choose to subsidize that or a portion of the fee. Consumers generally see a fee between $3 and $7.50.
That’s a minor cost compared to the many other delivery methods including a traditional pizza delivery with a tip, as Refraction AI CEO Luke Schneider said.
“Over the past year, it has become more apparent that our current solutions for on-demand delivery are broken; local businesses and households are having a hard time keeping up with rising fees while profitability remains elusive for even the biggest players,” said Schneider, a longtime Austin resident. “Our expansion into Austin marks another step in our vision to transform last-mile delivery into a ubiquitous, accessible, sustainable service that anyone can take part in.”
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the new delivery mode fits well with the city’s push toward a smarter, more inclusive city.
“This is truly a ‘wow’ moment as our city moves forward in ways that are inclusive, innovative, and intentionally improvisational,” said Adler. “Introducing a last-mile delivery solution that’s tastefully original, accessible to our community and sustainable for the future of our city fits right in with that vision and contributes to making Austin a wonderful place to live for years to come.”
Refraction AI said the fleet of 10 robots would expand as demand and the number of partnerships grow. The company initially launched in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and continues to operates eight bots in the area.
The company has raised $8.4 million since launching in July of 2019. Refraction AI raised $4.2 million in its latest round in March of this year.