Cute Automated Delivery Robot Unveiled

Annie Palmer wrote . . . . . . . . .

Your next Starbucks latte might be delivered by an adorable roving robot.

Postmates, the food and grocery delivery company, has debuted its new autonomous delivery robot, named ‘Serve.’

The four-wheeled rover closely resembles a brightly colored cooler, except it has huge, saucer-shaped eyes and an array of cameras meant to help it navigate the streets.

For now, Postmates will dispatch the first Serve robots in Los Angeles before it plans to roll out more robots in several cities across the U.S. over the next year.

The firm says Serve will replace human deliverymen when items only need to be delivered short distances, such as a couple blocks around the corner.

When a user places an order, a Serve might be dispatched and show up at their door.

From there, they’ll either enter a code on the device’s touchscreen or use their phone to unlock the latch at the top of the device.

They simply reach in, grab their food item and then Serve is on its way.

Serve is ‘all-electric,’ can carry a payload of up to 50lbs and can travel up to 30 miles on a single charge.

The robot uses a combination of cameras and LIDAR technology to get around town.

‘Using Lidar and the most advanced sensors of any automated delivery rover, Serve creates a virtual picture of the world in real time,’ Postmates explained.

‘An interactive touch screen is a part of how Serve communicates.’

It also moves at ‘walking speed’ so as to not get in anyone’s way while rolling down the sidewalk.

There’s several flashing strips of LED along the sides of the device that act as turn signals and will flash if it changes directions.

A touchscreen on top of the device acts as a way for customers to interact with it.

Serve is meant to appear human-like, with huge eyes that blink and it’ll even play music like a pseudo-ice cream truck.

The display is equipped with video chat software in case of an emergency, while a ‘Help’ button on the device can also be triggered if a user has a question.

Even though it’s semi-autonomous, a human is always monitoring the device from a remote control room and is able to take over operating Serve at any time using a game controller.

Postmates created Serve with the community and regulators in mind. It faces stricter regulations in cities like San Francisco, where tech companies must obtain a permit before they can test robots on the streets.

The firm describes Serve as a ‘respectful member of the community’ that yields to pedestrians and won’t hog the sidewalk.

‘Serve safely walks alongside pedestrians, navigates around fire hydrants, and respects our sidewalks,’ Postmates said.

The firm said it hopes Serve will help cut costs and save time on deliveries.

And in the future, Postmates envisions even more capabilities for the roving robot.

‘It could patrol the neighborhood,’ Bastian Lehmann, Postmates’ co-founder and CEO, told Wired.

‘Or you could use it for evil things, like it could write parking tickets.’

Source: Daily Mail

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VegReady – A New Plant-Based Meals Delivery Service in the U.S.

Imagine being able to enjoy a delicious, ready-to-eat vegan meal whenever and wherever you’d like. That’s the whole idea behind VegReady, a unique new food concept that’s launching July 14th on Kickstarter.

VegReady is different for a number of reasons. First, the meals don’t need refrigeration, defrosting or cooking. They’re pasteurized and shelf-stable. So they can be eaten anytime and easily stored at room temperature.

Next, they’ll be sold online directly to you, rather than through retail stores. This is intended to develop a more personal relationship with each customer. Each meal will cost $7.50 and are ordered in quantities of 10 meals at a time. The meals arrive at your address in reusable pizza boxes.

Initial VegReady Meals Sourced from Peru

The first VegReady dishes will come from the mountains of Peru, where Quinoa is the traditional high protein dish. Quinoa was referred to as chisaya mama or mother grain by the ancient Incas. The meal will contain deliciously cooked Quinoa, sautéed greens and savory vegetables. Peru was selected because it’s the first country in the world to have a complete ban on GMO’s. Following the initial launch, additional meals will be added with Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, India and Pakistan cuisines.

Meals Optimized for Your DNA

VegReady plans to work with doctors to offer custom meals created to meet your specific health needs and taste preferences. They’re also partnering with a DNA analysis firm called 23andme, so your meals can be matched to your individual DNA makeup.

Source: Meatless Monday

New York Times to Start Delivering Meal Kits to Homes

Gerry Smith wrote . . . . .

It’s all the food that’s fit to eat.

This summer, the New York Times will begin selling ingredients for recipes from its NYT Cooking website as the newspaper publisher seeks new revenue sources to offset declines in print. The Times is partnering with meal-delivery startup Chef’d, which will send the ingredients to readers within 48 hours. The Times and Chef’d will split sales from the venture.

“Our audience spends a lot of time cooking at home,” said Alice Ting, vice president of brand development, licensing and syndication for the Times. “So for us it was a natural area to investigate.”

The Times’ foray into meal delivery is another example of how the publisher is looking for new ways to make money from its content, brand and journalists to hedge against the uncertain future of newspapers. Last year, circulation and advertising accounted for about 94 percent of total revenue.

In recent years, New York Times Co. has started businesses around live conferences, a wine club and an online store that sells hats, shirts and other trinkets with Times logos. The paper also runs a growing travel unit, “Times Journeys,” in which tourists pay thousands of dollars to see countries like Iran or Cuba, many of which are led by Times foreign correspondents.

The Times expects meal delivery to be as big as Times Journeys, “if not bigger,” Ting said. Last year the company’s “other revenues,” which include rental income, conferences and e-commerce, generated about $95 million in sales, according to its annual filing. The Times doesn’t break out e-commerce revenue separately.

‘Comfortable in the Kitchen’

NYT Cooking, edited by Times Food Editor Sam Sifton, has about 7 million monthly active users and features more than 17,000 recipes from the Times archive. On Wednesday, the site featured one recipe for marinated celery salad with chickpeas and parmesan and another for braised chicken with artichokes and olives. Readers can save and rate recipes and leave notes for other cooks. And this summer they’ll be able to buy food kits a la carte or enroll in a subscription service. They’ll also get recipe suggestions based on their preferences.

“These meal kits we’re offering are just another tool to help our users become more comfortable in the kitchen,” said Amanda Rottier, product director of NYT Cooking, which launched in September 2014.

Chef’d has exclusive relationships with over 90 chefs, companies, and brands, including the publishing company Rodale Inc. and magazines like Men’s Health. Meal kits for two people range from $19 to $39, according to the Chef’d website. Chief Executive Officer Kyle Ransford calls his company “the last mile between the recipe and your front door.”

There are dozens of other companies, including Blue Apron, delivering meal kits to consumers homes. The Times chose Chef’d partly because it had similar relationships with other publishers. “We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t think there was a revenue opportunity,” Ting said. “This is definitely not the last one.”

As the advertising market remains uncertain, the Times is relying more on its readers to support its journalism. The paper now has about 1.36 million paying digital subscribers to its online news and crossword products. Earlier this week, the Times reported first-quarter profit that beat estimates as it added digital subscribers but reported a drop in both print and digital advertising in the quarter.

Source: Bloomberg