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There’s a new delivery robot service in town called Refraction

Coming to a bike lane near you…

refraction delivery robot
Image: Refraction AI

Autonomous delivery robots are super cool, but they all fall short in bad weather. A new startup called Refraction hopes to change all of that, with its REV-1 autonomous delivery robot which can operate in both snow and rain.

Refraction takes on the bike lane with its autonomous delivery robot

The two founders of Refraction work together at the University of Michigan’s Robotics Program.

Matthew Johnson-Roberson got the robotics bug competing in DARPA’s Grand Challenge back in 2004, staying in academia to research, then later teach, robotics. Ram Vasudevan used to work on control algorithms for bad weather at Ford, before joining UM.

Their autonomous delivery robot costs less than $5,000 to buy, as it skips the $10,000 LIDAR that the sidewalk-using autonomous robots are using. They’re testing right now with some restaurants local to the university, and looking to expand nationwide in the next 6 months or so.

  • The REV-1 is lightweight, low-cost, and operates in the bike lane
  • It doesn’t need the expensive LIDAR sensors used on competing autonomous delivery robots
  • It can travel in rain or snow
  • You probably won’t see one in southern California, as Refraction wants to build its niche in wintry climes

Great, I can’t wait for DoorDash to employ only robots to deliver our food so they can pocket even more of our tips.

What do you think? Interested in more robotic food delivery options? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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