Thursday, April 22, 2021

The last mile: Robots take to streets for a local delivery

A company that makes an innovative robot that may one day challenge Amazon drivers for their urban deliveries, is newly buoyed by a seed round announced this week. Refraction AI, an automation firm founded in 2019 and creator of the REV-1, a low-cost, lightweight autonomous delivery robot, will use its $4.2 million raise for customer acquisition, geographic expansion, and product development.

Major logistics operations are already deeply involved in solving this issue. “The big companies UPS, FedEx, Amazon will have a small hub, and from the hub to your house will be automated. We see use cases in China where you hire a robot to take care of this, to pick up the parcels,” Ram Machness, VP of product for Arbe Robotics, an autonomous driving company, told Design News. “The delivery robot will solve this for you.”

“Last-mile delivery is the quintessential example of a sector that is ripe for innovation, owing to a powerful confluence of advancing technology, demographics, social values and consumer models. Conventional approaches have left businesses and consumers with few choices in this new environment as they struggle to keep pace with surging demand – burdened by the costs, regulatory, and logistical challenges of a legacy infrastructure,” says Luke Schneider, who took the helm as CEO of Refraction AI in fall 2020. “Our platform uses technology that exists today in an innovative way, to get people the things they need, when they need them, where they live. And we’re doing so in a way that reduces business’ costs, makes roads less congested, and eliminates carbon emissions.” 

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