Logistics Blog | The Grimes Companies in Jacksonville, FL
Postmates DC

In October 2016, Starship Technologies introduced the first commercially-available delivery robots in the District of Columbia. These two-foot-tall, teeny-tiny, driverless marvels deliver food, groceries and packages to a customer’s door. Can you say “The Jetsons?”

The D.C. Council recently passed legislation permitting large-scale delivery robot deployment throughout the city. Starship Technologies, the company providing the largest contribution to getting the initial law together, is the big winner in this story. Here we see supply chain appearing in unique and rare form.

The law removes geographic limitations. This means Starship could seek permits to pilot their little plastic and electronic delivery fleet into the previously restricted central business district. Can you imagine the scene?

Several alien-like driverless robots on the D.C. sidewalks spooking children, maneuvering around the handicapped and triggering a dog’s instinct to bark (and perhaps do other things on) these weird devices. But first, the legislation must completely be accepted by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congress.

D.C.’s testing ground for these little delivery R2D2s currently provides service at no cost to customers beyond the price of delivery. However, as we know, eventually it will probably cost you something additional for the service. But think about it… how convenient would it be to have food delivered to you by equipment that never argues with you, has no tats, no piercings nor pink chartreuse colored hair, nor expects a tip for doing its job? The service might just be worth muddling through the testing period.

Currently, the robots also operate in several states including Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Ohio, Silicon Valley, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, plus 15 countries outside of the U.S., including Estonia and England.

The trend will probably grow. But how will food delivery robots affect foot traffic in the cities? Will somebody create a new dance called the deliver robot sidestep? Even though delivery robots cut down on delivery trucks blocking street traffic, will the bots be blamed for causing traffic accidents from people rubbernecking them? I guess that remains to be seen.

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