For those of you who don’t live in or around Hollywood, Pink Dot is a grocery store chain with a branch in Hollywood. Pink Dot prepares your grocery order and delivers it to your doorstep. Most people in Hollywood are familiar with Postmates. That company was recently sold to Uber for more than $2.3 billion. Pink Dot is no Postmates, but it had a few cameo roles on television and in movies in the past. Now, Pink Dot has now partnered with Postmates on a new delivery option, and Pink Dot’s future is right here right now with its robotic delivery option.
Some customers who order from Pink Dot through the Postmates app can now choose to have their orders delivered either personally or through a robot that looks like a cooler on four wheels. Right now, three of the robots are in use in a 90-day experiment, and Pink Dot is the only business that uses them. When a robot reaches its destination, it sends the customer a text message along with a code for opening the container that holds the order. The customer merely walks out to the sidewalk to meet the robot and get their food. The robot then returns to Pink Dot for the next order. Two orders to the same location requires two trips. Robot deliveries are up to two miles from Pink Dot.
The robots travel at a speed of about 5 mph. The average human walks at a speed of about 3-4 mph. At this point in time, the robots aren’t alone though. They have human handlers who walk some distance behind them, mostly to observe how humans are interacting with the robots, and probably to make sure nobody is injured by them. People who encounter the Pink Dot robots are curious. Some people take photos of them or touch them. Others get in the way of them, but the robots have sensors that guide them around obstructions in their path.
To date, robotic deliveries from Pink Dot are free of charge. Human deliveries cost between $5 and $10. Given the current COVID-19 concerns, the owner of the Pink Dot on Sunset Boulevard and La Cienega is pleased. He wants as few humans as possible touching his store’s products before they reach his customers. He remarked that “West Hollywood has always been cutting edge. What better place to launch robot deliveries!”