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Meet Kiwibot, A Robot That Delivers Food On University Of Denver Campus

DENVER (CBS4) - A Columbian startup company that's been working out of the University of California Berkeley recently began testing Kiwibot on the University of Denver campus. Two robots had been delivering food there for a couple of weeks before the coronavirus pandemic canceled classes and temporarily halted the project's trials.

A technician works on a delivery robot at the Kiwibots base in Medellin, Colombia, on April 22, 2020 during the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic. (credit: JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP via Getty Images)

However, even Kiwibot's short period of operation has given some a peek into the future of services that minimize physical human contact.

David Rodriguez heads business for Kiwibot, and helped to launch operations in Colorado through Project X-Cite -- a University of Denver student incubator. He said this could help businesses operate in case of another pandemic, as well as provide cost savings.

"It allows you to get delivery straight from the restaurants near you, and by not having the middle person it increases the safety and the trust you will have on the delivery, second of all restaurants are seeing 80 to 70 percent drops on demand, and that's something that our technology can help with," Rodriguez explained.

(credit: CBS)

The service might impact delivery jobs, however Rodriguez imagined businesses can also operate 24 hours, potentially allowing some to expand in other ways.  One obstacle sitting in the way of making robot deliveries more mainstream is what local governments will allow this service to do.  That's something Rodriguez said he is still working to negotiate out with a handful of cities in Colorado.

"DU has been fantastic to work with. Definitely we are narrowing the gap with local authorities so that we can scale this up across DU and also in key areas of Denver that we perceive will be greatly benefitted out of what we're developing," he said.

Kiwibot uses GPS to find its customers and carries food in an insulated compartment, similar to a cooler on wheels.  It can operate continuously for 9 hours without needing to a recharge.  The company also told CBS4 Kiwibot has been met with an enthusiastic reception in its native home in Columbia, and overseas in Asia.

And in case you're wondering, Kiwibot operators also said the robot managed to travel with no issues in snow.

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