Companies test automated delivery devices in uphill effort to solve the ‘last-10-yard problem’

Abhishek Khandkar of Blaze Pizza at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., loads up a delivery robot built by Starship Technologies that makes deliveries autonomously across campus.

Source: Mike Colias and Marc Vartabedian

Food companies are experimenting with autonomous delivery to reduce the high costs and headaches of door-to-door service. But the robots aren’t riding to the rescue any time soon.

Fast-food chains and grocery stores are teaming with big car companies and tiny startups to test the idea of autonomously shuttling food to customers. During tests in Miami, Michigan and Las Vegas, Domino’s Pizza Inc. delivered more than 1,000 pies in Ford sedans plastered with signs that read “self-driving delivery test vehicle.” Venture-backed startups have dispatched a few hundred cooler-sized robots in smaller cities like Berkeley, Calif., to weave around pedestrians and deliver burritos or groceries to customers’ doorsteps.

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