Serve Robotics’ new autonomous sidewalk delivery robots don’t require human assist

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Serv Robotics, an Uber spinout that makes sidewalk delivery robots, is deploying its next generation of robots that are capable of completing some commercial deliveries without a human in the loop, according to the startup. This means that in some operational design domains, or geofenced areas, all will not rely on remote operators to teleassist the robot or followers to follow the robot for safety.

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Most companies in the industry, such as Cocoa, Starship Technologies and Kiwibot, rely on remote operators to monitor autonomous deliveries and handle driving when robots stop or need help, so Serv’s milestone is truly in robotic delivery. It is a step towards progress.

Ali Kashani, Co-Founder and CEO, said, “The problem we solved is that relying on teleoperation for security means you must rely on 100% reliable LTE networks and 100% fault-free operators, It is impossible to achieve both consistently.” Serve, told Nerdshala. “Consider what happens when a safety situation requires human attention, but the video is delayed or the connection is dropped? With Level 4 robots, humans need to be in the loop to ensure safety.” is not needed.”


Serv began rolling out its next-generation robots in December and said it recently completed its first deliveries on Level 4 autonomy, which SAE defines As a system that can drive autonomously as long as certain conditions are met and that would not require a human to drive. The startup’s robots currently have L4 capabilities in certain areas of Los Angeles, such as Hollywood, where Serv has been operating since 2018, Kashani said.

“When the robot is in a given area where level 4 is enabled, The remote video feed is turned off and the robot continues to navigate autonomously without the need for a human in a loop,” Kashani told Nerdshala. “Robots can always request assistance if one is needed, say what. Something unexpected happens to them. They also turn on the video while crossing the intersections. But most of the time they operate autonomously.”

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Until autonomous vehicles reach Level 5 capability, under which systems can operate in all conditions without humans, there will always be a long tail of edge cases that robots are unfamiliar with. It makes sense for those people to rely on humans, both from a security and commercialization standpoint, Kashani said.

Serva’s new robots are equipped with a range of active sensors, such as ultrasonics and lidar sensors from Oster, and passive sensors such as cameras to help navigate busy sidewalks. The startup has developed specific capabilities for its bots, such as automatic crash prevention, vehicle collision avoidance and fail-safe emergency braking, according to the company. The calculations needed to produce those capabilities in real time are driven by chip-maker Nvidia’s Jetson platform, which is designed specifically for robots and other autonomous machines.

The company raised an expanded seed round of $13 million last month, which it said will be used to fund accelerated expansion plans in new customer segments and geographies. In line with those stated goals, Kashani said Serva’s next steps are to deploy its next-gen robots to more regions, starting with expansion in Los Angeles.

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