When visiting Fairfax’s Mosaic District, you might notice white robots that look like coolers rolling along the sidewalks. They’re delivering food.
“This is another way our food can get to [customers] in an easier way,” says Rahul Vinod, co-founder of the fast casual restaurant RASA.
RASA is one of three eateries at Mosaic District using the six-wheel robots that are just big enough to carry two grocery bags. In April, Uber Eats and Cartken, an artificial intelligence-powered robotics company, partnered to bring the service to the Mosaic District. The other restaurants that are participating are Pupatella and Our Mom Eugenia.
Vinod says Uber had reached out directly to RASA to test the robots because of the long-standing relationship the two businesses have. After some testing on how the robots would navigate the Mosaic area, RASA started offering them as a delivery option.
Having the robots make deliveries has been “pretty seamless,” Vinod says.
“Autonomous technology will play an important role in the future of transportation and the movement of goods,” said Abby Wheeler, an Uber spokeswoman. “We see autonomous vehicles working together with couriers and drivers in a hybrid model that increases network density, platform reliability, and ultimately wins more merchants and customers.”
The robots are programmed to stay away from people. In the future, Uber would like to see more restaurants using them.
“With more than 40 restaurants in the Mosaic District, there’s an opportunity to expand the pilot program to additional merchants moving forward,” she said.
Feature image courtesy Uber
For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine’s Food newsletter.