Postmates Receives First-Ever Sidewalk Robotics Permit From San Francisco

August 9, 2019
Written by Folake Dosu

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Postmates can now conduct sidewalk robotics operations in the city of San Francisco. The on-demand delivery startup told TechCrunch this week that it has received the first-ever permit of its kind issued in San Francisco to test sidewalk robotics.

The 180-day permit authorizes the testing of up to three autonomous delivery devices, according to San Francisco Public Works. 

This milestone is a huge win for Postmates, who has been working with the city to develop a framework for sidewalk robotics since 2017, according to the outlet. San Francisco, which had banned street robots from testing without official government permits, is now one of the few U.S. cities to formally allow a pilot for sidewalk robotics. 

“We’ve been eager to work directly with cities to seek a collaborative and inclusive approach to robotic deployment that respects our public rights of way, includes community input, and allows cities to develop thoughtful regulatory regimes.”

“We’ve been eager to work directly with cities to seek a collaborative and inclusive approach to robotic deployment that respects our public rights of way, includes community input, and allows cities to develop thoughtful regulatory regimes,” a Postmates representative said in a statement provided to TechCrunch.

Last December, Postmates first revealed Serve, its semi-autonomous sidewalk rover that navigates sidewalks using cameras and lidar. Since then, the company has updated the robot with smaller, more lightweight lidar and changed the animation of Serve’s “eyes” to make it more appealing to consumers, TechCrunch says. 

Valued at $1.85 billion, Postmates is on a path to an IPO this year after quietly filing for its offering in February. Recode reports that Postmates is simultaneously exploring an M&A exit.

Postmates’ investors include Tiger Global, BlackRock, Spark Capital, Uncork Capital, Founders Fund and Slow Ventures.

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