E-commerce company Talabat pilots first food delivery robots in partnership with UAE authorities | Food Business Africa Magazine
UAE – Online food ordering company Talabat, Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, and Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority have launched UAE’s first food delivery robots that are part of a three-month pilot program to improve options for delivery services.
After a successful trial in Expo2020, seven of the “talabot” autonomous robots will serve about 300 homes across a specific residential district for the first time.
Collecting from Starbucks, Oregano, and Lebanese restaurant On the Wood at Cedre Villas community center, customers can order robot-delivered food which typically takes up to 15 minutes to arrive, via the Talabat app and track their delivery.
The delivery robots are well equipped to deal with other vehicles, curbs, and even an inquisitive stray cat, as they are fitted with radar and lidar operating systems.
The combination of the fitted system with multiple inbuilt sensors and algorithms that gauge surroundings and detect barriers in their path helps the robots keep a safe distance from toddlers and pets, and cars.
In addition, the robots are stored securely inside a temperature-controlled unit, enabling them to operate in all types of weather and withstand the extreme summer heat of the UAE.
“We have had to start small as we can’t serve all the homes and restaurants, but this is the next test outside of Expo,” said Maria Estevan, director of special projects at Talabat. “The technology showed people were engaging with the robots, but now we need to take it outside of a controlled environment.”
Talabots will only operate inside a gated community within a 4.8km radius of the restaurants but will share road space with other everyday traffic.
Once delivered, customers can open the robot to collect their orders by using a unique access code. Artificial Intelligence deployed in the talabots safeguards people’s identity by blurring faces, with no facial recognition detection.
The project is a direct result of the RTA’s Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, under the category of “Self-driving Logistical Services,” which includes ground transport and drones.
Once the program proves viable, the service can be expanded and contribute to Dubai’s plan for one in four of all road trips to be autonomous by 2030.
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