By Stanley Tang, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer
At DoorDash, we’ve always said that delivery operates at the intersection of a math problem and a human problem. In that spirit, we’re constantly testing various ways to make deliveries faster. From machine learning and artificial intelligence to drones and electric bikes, we know that innovative technology paired with DoorDash’s top operations can help decrease delivery times, increase efficiency, and improve quality.
Earlier this year we began testing testing robot deliveries on the DoorDash platform, as a complement to other modes of transportation like cars, bikes, and scooters. We’re excited by the progress we’ve made so far and have already expanded robot deliveries to four cities across the US (Redwood City, Washington DC, Sunnyvale, and San Carlos). We’ve learned the strengths and weakness of these robots, improved operations, and developed new technology to directly integrate our delivery platform into the robot’s software.
With the success of our existing pilots, today we’re announcing our second robot delivery partnership, teaming up with Marble to test deliveries in San Francisco.
Marble robots offer a new form factor that is larger and more robust, making them useful for multiple orders or for short distance catering deliveries. Their technology also uses LIDAR, the same technology in autonomous vehicles, providing a new approach to self-driving deliveries. Finally, with Marble we’re excited to start offering robot deliveries in our fifth city: our hometown of San Francisco, CA.
While Marble’s robots are a promising technology on their own, we’re most excited about the ways we can use them to complement the existing Dasher fleet and help make human Dashers more efficient and productive, ultimately earning them more money. For example, even though large robots can carry bigger catering orders placed using DoorDash Drive, these types of orders still require a human to set up the food and lay out the order in a cafeteria or conference room. For these deliveries, robots could essentially serve as “autonomous food carts,” making it easier and faster for Dashers to transport the meal, set up the food, and then move on to the next delivery. Similarly, a large form factor robot could enable us to create a mobile “hub and spoke” model, using a robot to pick up multiple orders from a single restaurant at once, transport the orders to a central dispatch hub, and then meet a number of human Dashers who can then take each order to their final delivery destinations.
To celebrate the Marble partnership, we conducted a very special test delivery with our friends at Jack in the Box. Check out a video of our Jack in the Box robot delivery, below:
Robots are an exciting initiative for us and we’re proud to be doubling down on our tests here by teaming up with Marble. But robots are just a first step: with drones, autonomous vehicles, and other promising technologies on the horizon, we know our experiments in this space are just getting started. Keep an eye out for more news on these tests, or join the team to help us determine what technology we should pilot next.