Kiwibot, the startup for delivery robots that has started to transport burritos and snacks to students on the University of California-Berkeley campus, is expanding to San Jose with a new business model and partners Shopify and Ordermark.
Around 25 kiwi bots will begin delivering groceries to customers in downtown San Jose and Buena Vista, a predominantly Latin American neighborhood southwest of the city center. Kiwibot charges $ 3.99 per delivery, a fee that restaurants and other businesses can either absorb or pass on to consumers.
Starting in San Jose isn̵
“We started thinking instead of building the robot infrastructure and the market. Let’s just focus on building the robot infrastructure and work with companies that already have that in mind, ”said co-founder and CEO Felipe Chavez.
Kiwibot made the transition in January and started building a business-to-business API so every company could connect to its platform. Shopify and Ordermark are the first partners for Kiwibot under this new direction.
This means that any company that uses the Shopfiy platform to manage its online stores can add the Kiwibot API so that its products are delivered directly to customers. In the meantime, Ordermark, which sells an online ordering platform to companies, has integrated the Kiwibot API into its product. Now Kiwibot appears alongside a variety of other services in the Ordermark dashboard.
According to Chavez, Kiwibot also works closely with the city of San Jose. The city’s transit agency can locate and monitor every robot in real time using the Mobility Data Specification (MDS). More and more cities are using the MDB tool to track vehicles with shared mobility, such as scooters. However, Chavez claims that San Jose is the first city to be integrated into a robot company’s API. The data is anonymized to keep the customer’s personal data private, Chavez added.
Kiwibots are not completely autonomous. At least not quite yet. Chavez uses the term “semi-autonomous” to describe the bots. Here’s what that actually means. The delivery bots are equipped with a camera and can recognize objects and navigate around them. However, in certain scenarios, the bots are also supported and controlled remotely by people who can remotely monitor up to three robots. These teleoperators, or supervisors, as Kiwibot calls them, provide path planning, a way to set and adjust waypoints along a route. You can also Step inside and take direct control of the bot when problems arise. Regulators, many of whom are located in Colombia, where Chavez and his co-founder Sergio Pachón originally hail, control the bot at all traffic junctions, the company says.
The goal is that these bots are less dependent on humans over time. The next generation of kiwi, known as Kiwibot 4.0, will be significantly larger. What the public may not notice are the additional sensors, including more cameras and even lidar. The Kiwibot 4.0 is expected to be released at the end of the year.