Thursday 29 September 2022

Delivery Robots at Pizza Hut

Robson Street is playing host to Pizza Hut's newest employees, a pair of delivery robots! I set out to track down the duo because the delivery robot pilot program is only here until Friday, September 30th. The robots are being trialled at 1725 Robson Street and are in partnership with Serve Robotics, the maker of the little 4-wheeled machine. 

I wanted to track down the robots and catch them in action, but I had no plan on how to do it. Walking down Robson Street towards Pizza Hut, I saw the robots parked outside. I think they resemble Wall-E from Pixar with their box frame and big round white eyes. Unlike Wall-E, these delivery robots do not make cute sounds and talk or collect little nick-nacks. 

The robots are quite stylish with their white body, metallic accents and four black tires. There is a computer screen at the top that is used to open and close and robot's compartment. There are several cameras and sensors on the robot to ensure it navigates the sidewalk and intersections safely. One of the robots is named Angie and the other is Hugo. 

As I was taking pictures, the staff came out to send robot Angie off on a delivery. With the pizza safely placed inside the robot's compartment, robot Angie was on its way to the delivery address. I could not help myself and decided to follow the robot down Robson Street. 

Whenever someone or something came in the robot's path, it would stop and either wait for the path to clear or adjust its course. The robot was not the most graceful at traversing intersections. It took it some time to line itself up with the intersection and because it is designed to stop if a person comes in its way, the robot stopped midway through the intersection. The silly thing was like a sitting duck in the middle of a busy intersection with the light changing to green and impeding a car from turning left. 

The delivery was a 10-minute walk from the Pizza Hut location. When you order from the Pizza Hut app, you get a code to enter into the robot to retrieve your pizza order. Once the robot finished its delivery, it was back to home base aka Pizza Hut Robson Street. 

I suspect the delivery distance for the robots is a 15 to 20-minute radius of the store. It makes sense in densely populated areas like Downtown Vancouver, but probably in low car traffic regions. When the robot had a clear path, it zoomed along at an impressive speed!

Robot Angie was quite the celebrity when it was out for delivery. Everyone was stopping to take pictures and videos of it. Definitely a novelty for Vancouver but in countries like Japan and Korea, robotic deliveries are nothing new. 

The robots will be roaming the West End of Robson Street for only a couple more days. Let me know if see them!


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