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Postmates Begins Inevitable Robot Takeover With Roving LA Delivery Bots

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They look cute, but don’t be fooled

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Sometimes it’s the cutest things that end up being the deadliest. That’s bound to be the case with Postmates’ new Serve, the yellow and gray rolling box the company is calling a “first-of-its-kind autonomous delivery rover.” While on the surface it seems like nothing more than a proprietary vehicle for moving food and other goods around in busy cities, it’s surely only a matter of time before the machines rise up and start carrying humanity away.

Postmates made the surprise Serve announcement today in a Medium post, calling it the “newest member of the Postmates fleet” and a revolution in the delivery space. As the post says:

Serve was built to respect cities, meets customer demands, and helps local businesses sell even more... It’s designed to work alongside the existing Postmates fleet to move small objects over short distances efficiently. It runs on electricity and moves at walking speed, routing deliveries away from congested streets and onto sidewalks.

In short, Serve is meant to tackle the densest parts of cities, bridging the gap between existing Postmates drivers and the front door of offices and apartment buildings. The small sensor-loaded machines can haul some 50 pounds at a time and will allow customers to interact with it via the Postmates app, though — crucially — they say the rovers will be at least partially still controlled by human drivers. As Gizmodo notes, that’s likely for safety purposes as much as it is an ability to get around San Francisco’s tough laws on autonomous delivery vehicles.

Serve is set to be deployed in Los Angeles first, starting sometime next year and rolling out in phases throughout the next 12 months. That means there’s just one year left before the end of the world. Maybe.