UC Berkeley startup, Kiwi, has started a new on-demand delivery service for its students via bots. It’s aimed at students who stay on campus and are hungry due to long study sessions.
Background of the startup:
Kiwi is a start-up founded by Felipe Chávez. He started testing in his hometown in Colombia with humans, then switched to robots. This was when he participated at UC Berkeley’s LAUNCH, in January 2017. He decided to test start on the campus because it was a natural fit for Kiwi with favorable infrastructure.
How the Kiwibots work:
The devices, Kiwibots, deliver within the close proximity of the campus. The bots are self-directed and rely on existing technologies. They are equipped with tracking sensors and have smartphones mounted on the hoods for directions. The bots recognize boundaries and avoid obstacles by using lidar sensors.
The delivery process works in the following manner:
- Kiwibots receive orders made by users from the Kiwi app.
- A driver drops the bots at the nearest locations of the delivery businesses.
- The bots then proceed to stores for pickups.
- After the receives the delivery, the driver retrieves it, leaving at a location to travel a distance to the customers’ doorsteps
- Customers are notified of the arrival of the bot.
Although Kiwi has competitors such as Caviar, Sprig, etc, their bots are affordable. The delivery costs just $2.80 without any additional charges. Plus the service is monitored by the company and is 65% faster and reliable than human couriers. This affordable price has contributed to the startup’s growing popularity. There are 25 businesses that use their services and Kiwi made 500 deliveries in just one week.
According to Kiwi, the bots still need more features such as night vision, better sensors, and long battery life to function 24 hours a day. Although they have a long way to go until fully autonomous, Kiwibots offer a promising start for the future.