Moscow: Driverless robot buggies started delivering hot restaurant meals to paying customers in one central Moscow district on Wednesday, their operator, Russian Internet giant Yandex, said.
The Yandex.Eats app, one of several food and grocery delivery services in Moscow, is offering customers around the White Square business district the option to have meals delivered by a buggy-like delivery robot instead of a human.
The robot, called the Yandex.Rover, has been delivering groceries in some Moscow areas as part of a pilot programme since the autumn. It is now gradually expanding its catchment area, a Yandex spokeswoman said.
Yandex said the robot takes orders from restaurants and brings them to customers, who then use their smartphones to unlock the robot and lift up the food.
It said three of them are currently operating in the White House area, which is part of the city’s 20 robotic fleet.
The Yandex delivery service and its rival Delivery Club mean that in recent years, in Moscow, ubiquitous couriers wear bright yellow or green overalls and carry square heat-resistant satchels.
Over the summer, five Russian retailers commissioned a monument in Moscow to honour tens of thousands of delivery couriers who it said had kept the capital ticking during a weeks-long lockdown to curb the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dmitry Polishchuk, CEO of Yandex’s Self-Driving Group, said demand for delivery services was constantly growing and that the pandemic had accelerated the trend.
Yandex, sometimes described as Russia’s Google, said in November last year it had started testing autonomous delivery robots. It has also started using them commercially in Innopolis, a tech district in Tatarstan region, it said.