Dispatch gets $2m to develop self driving delivery robot

One of the companies developing autonomous delivery vehicles, Dispatch, has won US $2 million in seed funding from a consortium led by Andreessen Horowitz.

The company is developing a delivery robot that is named Carry, that will be able to travel on the pavement at human walking speed and carry up to 50kg of groceries, parcels, and laundry amongst other things.

On arriving at its destination, the recipient will be able to unlock the vehicle’s compartments using a smartphone app. With multiple compartments the Carry vehicle will be able to do several deliveries per trip.

The Dispatch development team include robotics and AI experts from the US universities UPenn, MIT, Stanford and Princeton.

In a notice posted on Wednesday (6 April) on its official blog , Dispatch said: “Today we’re thrilled to announce our seed round led by Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz, and joined by others including Charles Hudson from Precursor Ventures. This investment allows us to make key hires and grow our fleet of autonomous vehicles. We’re bringing together a great team with deep domain expertise in robotics, autonomous vehicles, and artificial intelligence.”

Dispatch has apparently been running test programmes for the Carry delivery robot. It has been reported that the company started plot programmed at Menlo College as well as CSU Monterey Bay and has delivered letters and packages to students.

There are other players in this field. Apex Insight has previously reported on the Starship Technologies self driving delivery vehicle that is already being tested around Greenwich in London. Pizza company Domino’s has recently unveiled a prototype delivery robot.

Where airborne drones tend to have all the publicity as they capture the imagination, most automated deliveries are likely to be by road due to the weight – it will be far cheaper to get 50 kilos of groceries to someone’s home by robot that has trundled up the road than to drop it from a drone. The road robots will also be far less constrained by weather.