Delivery robots are becoming a common sight in cities and on college campuses, but not everyone is welcoming them with open arms. Reports of vandalism and theft directed towards these automated machines are highlighting some negative sentiments surrounding their proliferation.
Recent developments in the field include Serve Robotics, backed by Uber, which announced a successful public transaction and secured $30 million in financing for its delivery robots.
Many colleges, like the University of Southern Indiana and Angelo State University, have embraced food delivery bots as part of their campus services through partnerships with companies like Kiwibot and Starship Technologies.
However, not everyone is embracing the technology as positively. A viral TikTok video showcased individuals attacking and vandalizing these robots, indicating a level of resistance to their presence.
Los Angeles businesses have reported feeling the impact of these actions, with a local news report stating that criminal actions against delivery robots have occurred in the city. Last year, two University of Tennessee students were arrested for damaging a delivery robot.
While motivations for these actions vary, consumer concerns about food delivery robots are apparent. PYMNTS’ exclusive report revealed that 71% of surveyed U.S. consumers expressed disinterest in robotics delivering their food. Common concerns included job loss, lack of personal interaction, reliability, order accuracy, privacy, security, and safety.
Despite these challenges, the demand for food delivery remains high. The economics of human delivery are challenging, leading to the potential of higher wages for workers in some areas. This could drive consumers towards alternatives like pickup or ready-to-eat meals. Delivery robots might offer a solution, combining convenience with cost-effectiveness.
Ali Kashani, co-founder and CEO of Serve, acknowledges the resistance but remains optimistic about the technology’s eventual acceptance. He emphasized the need for education, patience, and engagement with regulators and customers to foster understanding about the benefits of delivery robots.