The future is here! Robotic deliveries have arrived in West Hollywood as of Thursday.
People ordering from Pink Dot through the Postmates app now have the option of having an “autonomous delivery device” bring the food to their homes. The robots started making deliveries Thursday at 1 p.m.
“We’re so excited! Imagine having this robot making deliveries to your door,” said Sol Yamini, owner of the Pink Dot store on Sunset Boulevard at La Cienega. “I’ve been in the delivery business for over 20 years and this is the most revolutionary thing yet. This is the future.”
Pink Dot is the only store using the robots for deliveries. It’s part of an initial three-month trial run. If all goes well, the robots will be a permanent part of Pink Dot.
When people order their food through Pink Dot, they are given the option of having a human or a robot deliver it. The robot is on wheels and stands about three feet tall and two feet wide.
The delivery robots will not come into apartment buildings or homes. People ordering deliveries will have to come to the sidewalk to get their food. When the robot is at the apartment building or house, it will send a text message to the person’s phone to come get the food, along with an electronic code for unlocking the robot’s storage container. Once the code is punched in, the container will open and the person can take out the food.
During this trial run, the robots are being escorted by a human to see what problems it may encounter. The human escort has a handheld control panel to use if necessary. However, the human escort isn’t walking beside the robot, but rather some distance behind it while always keeping the robot within view.
“They don’t want to be too close to it because they want to see the human interaction, see how people react when they encounter it on the sidewalk. That’s all part of the pilot program to see how people respond it,” Sol Yamini told WEHOville. “So far, people are stopping it on the sidewalk, taking pictures with it. They want to touch it. Some people try to tip it over or block it’s way.”
The robots have sensors and will move around objects blocking their way. Top speed is about five miles per hour.
Pink Dot has three of the robots in service, appropriately named Pinky, Dotty and Solly.
Each robot will only make one delivery at a time, then return to the Pink Dot store to pick up the next delivery. Even if there are two different orders going to the same apartment building, two robots will deliver it.
The robots can deliver up to two miles from the Pink Dot location. Yamini reports the robots have no problem getting up and down the steep La Cienega hill.
For now, the robots only operate during daylight hours, per the restrictions the City Council put on the robots when they approved the pilot program back in March.
The three-month pilot was supposed to launch much sooner than this, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start. However, Yamini thinks it’s the perfect time to get this underway.
“With COVID out there, I want as few people as possible touching my food before it gets to me,” said Yamini “This robot eliminates several people touching it before it gets to you.”
Even better, there’s no charge for having the robot deliver it, whereas you pay $5 to $10 for human delivery.
Yamini is thrilled that West Hollywood is the site of the robots’ launch.
“West Hollywood has always been cutting edge,” he said. “What better place to launch robot deliveries!”