Like most places on the planet, Ann Arbor, Michigan is under a strict lockdown due to COVID-19. While the streets may be void of cars and people, there is still some activity thanks to autonomous delivery robots. They come from Refraction AI whose robots are helping restaurants deliver food to hungry customers. The locally-based robotics company has seen the demand surge for its delivery bots since the crisis began.
Called REVs (Refraction Electric Vehicles), the robots have been working around the clock making deliveries for local restaurants who are looking for ways to keep their businesses going while cutting down on human to human interaction.
The five-foot-tall robots weigh about 40 pounds and can operate in all types of weather conditions. Onboard sensors and cameras help the REVs navigate the streets and avoid anything that may get in its way. Once they arrive, customers can open the bot’s compartment by using their smartphone.
REV Delivery Robots Use UV Lights for Disinfection
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the REVs are working under strict guidelines. Robots are wiped down after every delivery and they have UV lights installed in their interior compartment. The UV lights, which help kill viruses like COVID-19, disinfect the compartment and food while in transit.
“This moment is a call to arms for robotics makers to really bring their technology to market that helps people. Particularly now in a time when there are so few options for doing tasks that we don’t want to put people at risk for,” said Refraction AI CEO Matthew Johnson-Roberson
Refraction AI is Working to Meet Demand
The company began the food delivery service earlier in the year with a pilot program making deliveries to a small group of customers from four downtown restaurants. With the state’s new regulations, Refraction’s customer list has ballooned to over 400. They only have 15 robots working on the empty streets but the company’s engineers are working day and night to create more.
“A bunch of new restaurants have said we have to have delivery now. The big limiting factor is the number of robots we have,” said Johnson-Roberson “We’ve been working to expand to groceries, which is the more important need of the moment than takeout food.”
Sources: Detroit News