Russia’s tech giant Yandex has announced that its robot delivery service, called Yandex Rovers, started delivering orders from Azbuka Vkusa and VkusVill grocery stores in central Moscow, with plans to extend rover delivery to other grocery chains and locations in the future.
The service represents autonomous delivery’s expansion beyond on-demand food delivery from restaurants and cafes around the Russian capital, groceries from Yandex.Lavka dark stores and robot couriers for documents.
Customers can choose the autonomous delivery option on either the Yandex.Eats food delivery app or the Yandex Go super app. Once the order is placed, supermarket staff assemble it and load it onto the Rover, which heads to the customer’s address and makes the delivery. Upon its arrival, the customer will receive a notification, and an “unlock” button will appear on the app. Rovers have the capacity to carry up to 20 kg of goods.
Yandex Rovers are well-equipped for hyperlocal deliveries, which make up a large percentage of express grocery orders. Given the growing demand for rapid food delivery, autonomous rovers can provide a much-needed, cost-effective solution for additional last-mile delivery capacity, according to Yandex.
Since regular service began at the end of 2020, Yandex Rovers have completed over 6,000 deliveries from some 50 restaurants and dark stores in Moscow and Innopolis. The company says its rovers are a new application of the autonomous mobility technology that Yandex began to develop for its self-driving cars in 2017.
Delivery robots are still a novelty, although several countries are piloting their use. Food delivery robots made by Starship, a U.S. company with production facilities in Estonia, have been spotted on the streets of Northampton, in the UK. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Kiwibot 4.0 has started delivering from several Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurants in Santa Monica, California.
Yandex plans to expand its Rover operations to deliver from restaurants, grocery stores and Yandex.Lavka dark stores in other Moscow districts. Plans are also in place to pilot Yandex Rover deliveries in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the U.S. and in Seoul, South Korea.