A Dispatch delivery robot on 19th Street (not pictured: delivery robot handler with controller). Photo by Laura Wenus

What’s this? It’s a delivery robot from Dispatch, as its handler must have told a million people today with impressively good humor (it literally says “delivery” right on the side but everyone who saw this little fella trundling down the street still had to ask, including me).

The guys whose legs you see in the photo said they thought it might be ice cream, but sadly, no frozen treats were to be had – from what I could gather, the robot is learning the sidewalks of the Mission and beyond.

Dispatch is a startup with some $2 million in seed funding that has tested its delivery bot on two college campuses. The robot, called Carry, is about three feet tall and is meant to make multiple deliveries per walking-speed trip. The recipient unlocks the robot’s compartment with an app.

There are several companies trying to figure out the “last mile” of getting products to customers in an era where going into a store is apparently passé. Last year a company called Starship tested something similar out in the Richmond. The challenge is efficiency and timeliness – as one investor noted to Forbes, despite all the fuss about flying drone delivery, keeping delivery robots grounded is significantly cheaper. The question is how it will stack up against human-powered competition. Are bike messengers’ jobs facing automation?

No word yet from Dispatch media relations about Mission-specific plans for the Carries.

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  1. Unfortunately, this is what passes for progress these days. As if Americans aren’t fat enough.

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    1. kind of waiting for the bike messenger riot to follow though, no?
      robot factory assembly.
      robot twitter feeds.
      more working class jobs lost to robots!
      and don’t hold your breath waiting for the bill gates robot tax.

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