January 29, 2023
  • Serve Robotics, previously a part of Postmates, has been testing autonomous-delivery robots since 2018. 
  • The Uber-backed startup just lately employed the previous DoorDash exec Prahar Shah as its income chief. 
  • Shah is taking a web page from his DoorDash playbook to develop Serve’s sidewalk robots throughout the US.

Serve Robotics is able to go nationwide with its autonomous-delivery robots.

In relation to amassing a big food-delivery footprint, the startup has employed a ringer within the supply sector — the previous DoorDash govt Prahar Shah.

Shah, considered one of DoorDash’s first 50 workers, was named Serve’s chief income officer final month. On this new function, Shah plans to step up the corporate’s partnerships with eating places and deploy 1000’s of its sidewalk robots throughout the US. Serve’s robots have the potential to be ubiquitous in our on a regular basis lives, he stated. 

However first, Serve wants buy-in from eating places, and that is the place Shah’s DoorDash expertise is essential. 

As the previous head of enterprise improvement at DoorDash, Shah helped scale the supply operator’s presence throughout the US by signing offers with massive chains.  Shah informed Insider he plans to make use of that very same playbook that made DoorDash the No. 1 food-delivery supplier within the nation. 

The first technique is to focus on massive chains with huge scale, like Taco Bell and The Cheesecake Manufacturing unit. Serve stated the corporate is exploring growth to a number of cities in Texas, California, and Canada.

“Large, established gamers assist give us the demand,” he informed Insider. “They seed the marketplace for us.”  

Prahar Shah

Serve Robotics named Prahar Shah its first chief income officer in October.

Serve Robotics



As soon as it cuts offers with one or two massive chains, different mid-market restaurant gamers like Shake Shack are prone to observe, he stated. 

That is “similar to a part of the playbook that we ran at DoorDash,” Shah stated.

Some massive chains have already proven curiosity within the supply robots. This 12 months, Pizza Hut Canada and Walmart examined Serve’s robots. 

Serve is relying on the assistance from traders with main retail and restaurant ties together with Uber; the Supply Hero- backed DX Ventures; and 7-Eleven’s company enterprise arm, 7-Ventures.  

Above: A Serve Robotics robotic turned a Twitter sensation after it appeared to pressure its approach by way of a police crime scene. A Serve spokesperson stated somebody on the scene lifted the police tape and inspired the robotic to cross it.

Autonomous robots are ‘cheaper’ than human-controlled meals supply 

Serve Robotics launched in 2017 underneath a brand new innovation division of Postmates, a Bay Space food-delivery firm competing with Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash. A 12 months later, Serve started testing its sidewalk robots in Los Angeles.

After Uber purchased Postmates in 2020, it spun off Serve, however the ride-hailing big stays a minority backer of the robotics startup.

Most of Serve’s restaurant partnerships have been with native eating places in Los Angeles, equivalent to Bossa Nova and Lala’s Grill. Now, the corporate is focusing on massive chains. 

Over the previous two years, Serve has seen a handful of rivals emerge in a robot-delivery market anticipated to develop to $957 million by 2026 — up from $212 million in 2021, in line with MarketsandMarkets Analysis.

Rivals within the robot-delivery house embrace Kiwibot, Starship Applied sciences, and Coco. Coco has dozens of robots deployed in numerous components of the US, together with Los Angeles. The startup’s bots are remote-controlled. Kiwibot and Starship are leaning into faculty campus deliveries.  

Because it approaches nationwide chains, Serve plans to play up its totally autonomous sidewalk robots as a “labor answer” to supply, Shah stated.

The corporate says its robots, which might carry about 50 kilos, are 30% to 50% inexpensive than deploying human couriers.  

Nonetheless, ServeRobotics would not see its robots totally changing third-party supply operators. 

In any case, the robots usually are not designed for long-distance supply. The corporate stated that the technique is to persuade eating places to undertake Serve’s robots for deliveries starting from 1 to three miles. Serve stated its knowledge exhibits that fifty% of supply orders are inside a 2- to 3-mile radius of the restaurant. Serve’s robots can even fulfill deliveries in about quarter-hour.

“Our candy spot can be nearer to a mile,” Shah stated.

Serve has confronted some resistance from chains. Over the summer time, Chili’s, owned by Brinker Worldwide,  introduced a plan to make use of Serve. However the brand new CEO of Brinker, Kevin Hochman, promptly pulled the plug on the entire chain’s robotic testing in August. The chain informed Insider it’s “engaged on extra operations-focused innovation to enhance” kitchen efficiencies equivalent to tools designed to scale back cook dinner time. 

The Chili’s setback doesn’t deter Shah.

He stated he would not see it as an indication of eating places having second ideas on robotics. As he approaches restaurant chains in his new function, he stated most perceive the need of automation.

Operators inform him: “That is the longer term.”

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