In the times of 30-minutes, 10-minutes and drone delivery options, another one is catching up the pace on the grounds — the sidewalk robots — equipped with autonomous driving technologies that enable them to operate with or without remote assistance or surveillance of a human.
While Starship and Amazon are spearheading the technology, others are also jumping into the segment. The latest one in the news is Serve Robotics. A spun from Uber-owned Postmates, the robotic division of the delivery magnate.
Serve Robotics, a name taken from the autonomous sidewalk delivery bot — has now raised seed funding at $13M with participation from strategic investors Uber Technologies, Inc, DX Ventures; 7-Ventures, LLC; and Wavemaker Labs. Existing seed investors Neo, Western Technology Investment, and Scott Banister are among those who have invested.
The funds will be utilised to help the company reach commercial-scale faster, including fleet expansion, geographic expansion, and product development.
“Serve Robotics is thrilled to have the support of strong strategic partners that can help us achieve our goal of providing sustainable, self-driving delivery at scale,” stated Dr. Ali Kashani, Co-founder and CEO of Serve Robotics. “This initial round of financial and strategic backing will enable us to continue advancing our technology, expanding our workforce, and broadening our partnering platform.”
Self-driving autonomous delivery
Serve claims to be delivering to Postmates customers in several Los Angeles areas since 2018, when the company was still known as “Postmates X.”
Founded in 2017, the startup began a commercial operation in 2020 and its robots have performed tens of thousands of contactless deliveries from over 100 shops in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“Uber and Serve both value convenience and dependability,” said Sarfraz Maredia, Vice President and Head of Uber Eats in North America. “As a Serve investor, we’re delighted to contribute to the development of self-driving delivery technology that can fulfill the evolving needs of consumers and merchants.”
The company designs, builds and runs zero-emissions rovers that serve people in public locations, starting with food delivery. Serve, founded in 2017 as Postmates’ robotics branch, set out to provide a robotic delivery experience that thrills customers, increases merchant reliability, and reduces vehicle emissions to zero.
“Serve Robotics has brought self-driving delivery to major U.S. cities and is leading the field of robotics with its cutting-edge autonomous technology,” said Brendon Blacker, Partner at DX Ventures. “This game-changing technology has the potential to reshape the future of delivery and we are investing in Ali’s vision and the world-class team he has assembled.”
“Our vision at 7-Eleven is to be the first choice for convenience – anytime, anywhere. We are redefining convenience by delivering innovative shopping solutions to our customers,” said Raghu Mahadevan, 7-Eleven SVP and Chief Digital Officer. “This collaboration will allow us to continue our 94-year legacy of innovation and expand our last mile delivery capabilities to make 7NOW more affordable, sustainable and accessible for everyone.”
“Serve Robotics has built a highly advanced, self-driving delivery robot that delivers safely and reliably for merchants,” said Buck Jordan, Founder and CEO at Wavemaker Labs. “We look forward to using autonomous delivery to elevate the customer experience and improve the unit economics of our food automation brands.”
Serve is headed by Ali Kashani, who ran Postmates X. Other co-founders include Dmitry Demeshchuk, the first engineer who accompanied the Serve team at Postmates and MJ Chun previously led product at Anki and has been heading up product strategy at Serve. Further, the company has 60+ employees with headquarters in San Francisco and offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada.