Ever dreamed of a future where robots deliver lunch on command? For residents of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the future is now. Today, Refraction, the robotics start-up and creator of the REV-1, a low-cost, lightweight autonomous delivery robot, launches a food delivery service. Customers within the 2.5 mile delivery zone can now place lunchtime delivery orders from local favorite restaurants Miss Kim, Belly Deli, Tios Mexican Cafe and Chow Asian Street Food carried out by the REV-1 robot — about the size of a bicycle that operates in the bike lane and the roadway.
To sign up for Refraction’s pilot program, hungry customers can fill out this form. Upon completing the form, instructions will be shared on how to place a lunchtime delivery — brought straight to the curb by the REV-1 autonomous robot.
Upon placing an order, the customer receives a confirmation with a unique code and delivery updates throughout. When the REV-1 arrives outside the destination, the customer is notified to meet the robot at the curb and grab their food with the unique code provided. The delivery zone encompasses a 2.5 mile radius that contains almost all of Ann Arbor.
“We’re thrilled to introduce this one-of-a-kind robot delivery service to the Ann Arbor community, and eventually, to more cities nationwide,” said Matt Johnson-Roberson, co-founder of Refraction. “With rainy and snowy weather just around the corner, we can’t wait to show everyone what the REV-1 is capable of. We’re all very excited to give people a taste of what’s to come in the future of food delivery.”
Approximately the size of an electric bicycle, the REV-1 delivery robot is lightweight, nimble and fast enough to operate in the bike lane and on the roadway. The vehicle has three wheels and stands 5 feet tall, 4.5 feet long and 30 inches wide. It weighs approximately 100 pounds and can reach a speed of up to 15 mph, which is fast enough to deliver in a timely manner, while having the shortest stopping distance of any AV on the road. The inside of the vehicle holds 16 cubic feet or approximately four or five food delivery bags.
“Not only are we using cutting-edge technology and reducing carbon emissions, but Refraction’s robot delivery will help cut our costs,” said Ji Hye, managing partner of Miss Kim. “Delivery companies charge a significant fee to restaurants, while Refraction only charges 15 to 20 percent. It’s really a win-win situation.”
Launched in July 2019, Refraction makes low-cost, lightweight AV robots for last-mile delivery. The smaller form factor of its autonomous robotic platform allows it to operate in both the bike lane and roadway, providing many of the benefits of autonomous vehicles with more route flexibility and safety. Based in Ann Arbor, MI, and founded by roboticists and professors at the University of Michigan, the company is backed by eLab Ventures and Trucks Venture Capital.