From Michigan to Tokyo, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in demand for contactless delivery robots.

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, lunch orders for Refraction AI’s last-mile REV-1 autonomous delivery robot have jumped by up to four-fold since the health crisis began. The company, which started operations in July 2019, created the robot for local deliveries between stores and customers. Residents in Ann Arbor, where the pilot program is now underway, can register for REV-1’s lunch delivery that offers cuisine from a variety of restaurants including Asian and Mexican.

Able to operate in the bike lane and on public roads, REV-1’s can travel at up to 15mph but will slow to a fast walking pace in residential areas. Delivery robots use deep-learning to correctly interpret data collected from on-board sensors, LiDAR and cameras to make intelligent decisions enabling cost-effective deliveries while avoiding pedestrians, cyclists, curbs, trees and lamp posts. They can even obey traffic lights.

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