By Stanley Tang, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer
All types of Dashers use DoorDash on a daily basis to complete deliveries. Some people drive cars, while others use bikes, motorcycles, scooters, or even walk. Each form of transportation has its own unique set of skills. Scooters can go through traffic easier, but are limited in the size of food they can carry. Bikers don’t have to worry about parking, but hills can be tough. Cars can pick up big catering orders but sometimes have to circle the block looking for a parking spot. Knowing that each type of Dasher has its own tradeoffs, today we’re adding another Dashing method into the mix, with it’s own unique set of skills and abilities: robots.
Today, we’re announcing a pilot partnership with Starship Technologies to test integrating their delivery robots into DoorDash’s operations. The partnership will begin by trialing robot deliveries in Redwood City, CA, in the heart of one of our most popular markets. As part of the test, we’ll look to see if robots can provide the speed and service customers come to expect from DoorDash, while also exploring how customers interact with the robots and learning how the robot works with the restaurant’s operations. People can expect to see Starship robots carrying a DoorDash order in Redwood City in the coming weeks.
We see robot deliveries as a unique complement to the existing Dasher community. Since, Starship’s robots have a smaller carrying capacity and drive on sidewalks, they are better suited for carrying a small meal down the street, rather than a few pizzas. We expect to use robots to deliver these smaller, short-distance orders that Dashers often avoid, thereby freeing up Dashers to fulfill the bigger and more complex deliveries that often result in more money for them. We also plan to explore using robots to bring food from a restaurant to a local hub: with this approach, Dashers would no longer need to park outside a restaurant or wait for the food, but could simply meet a robot at a parking lot to pick up the food and take it directly to the customer. Ultimately, we think we can use robots to improve the Dasher experience and make the deliveries they do even easier and more efficient.
DoorDash and Starship share a vision of transforming last-mile delivery. While some companies have pursued autonomous technologies by flouting local laws, Starship has already received approval to test their robots in Redwood City. And while other companies are exploring robotic vehicles that lack the infrastructure for delivery, we’re excited to be using our existing logistics network, meaning you’ll see robots fulfilling deliveries in weeks not years.
DoorDash is first and foremost a technology company. When we started the company, we knew that the only way to solve the complex logistics problems of a three-sided marketplace was through software. Over the past few years we’ve built technologies for placing orders, receiving orders, dispatch, support, and more, while pioneering new innovations like DoorDash Drive’s fulfillment platform and the Delight Score for ranking restaurants. We’re excited to continue pursuing innovation and experimentation with this newest announcement and hope to better learn how autonomous robots can improve the DoorDash experience for customers, merchants and Dashers.