Burgers and fries delivered by robo-car.
Stranger things have happened in Las Vegas. At the CES tech show this year, a car from AutoX showed off its autonomous driving skills by delivering burgers to the convention center.
The San Jose, California-based company started out delivering groceries with cars equipped with backseats modified to keep produce fresh and unharmed. Later, it partnered with select restaurants in Silicon Valley.
For CES this year, the delivery service found a nearby Applebee’s and sent out its test cars with a livefeed to show on the convention floor how the delivery process was going. After the car picked up the food about 2 miles away, some other reporters, VIPs, and I were able to chow down on slightly sweaty burgers and fries. (It was still delivery, after all — it can’t compete with food at a restaurant. It must have looked delicious though, because someone at the convention center stopped to ask me where I got it from.)
Normally, of course, AutoX users place orders through an app, instead of having someone order their food for them. Then the car drives itself from the restaurant or grocery store to the customer’s house.
I drove with CEO Jianxiong Xiao in a bright-green self-driving AutoX car: a modified Lincoln MKZ loaded with AutoX software and hardware. Even though it wasn’t a delivery ride, we drove near the convention center to experience what an autonomous ride is like. The company was initially focused on using high-resolution cameras to let the vehicles “see” but it’s now using a mix of LiDAR and radar sensors to measure the distance between objects.
Even if it’s just food in the backseat, AutoX is required to have a safety driver. During the ride, he kept a close watch on the road with his hands hovering over the wheel.
While AutoX was busy dropping off burgers at CES, Chinese search company Baidu announced its self-driving platform was powering Udelv delivery vans. The autonomous company will use Baidu’s self-driving software for 100 vans that will drop off orders throughout the U.S. starting later this year.
Baidu’s Apollo 3.5 will power the autonomous vans. It was updated this week to help vehicles better handle unprotected turns, speed bumps, narrow lanes, and parking.
This week was big for the California-based Udelv, which is partnering with Walmart for autonomous grocery deliveries in Arizona.
Now there are so many ways to get food and groceries delivered, we’ll never have to get off the couch again.