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Pizza bots have started delivering pizzas in select parts of Austin. (Refraction AI)

We've all heard of Southside Flying Pizza's new delivery robots—little "autonomous" bots piloting pizzas to South Congress, Downtown and Travis Heights front doors—but have you seen one in action?

Standing at 4'6", Austonia followed one of the new REV 1 robots on its way to a delivery in the Travis Heights area to see how exactly it functioned.

From food-delivery company, Refraction AI, the bots are the first delivery robots in Austin, outside a short-lived pilot by Starship Robots in 2017. While they say the bots are autonomous, they are still in the pilot program of the program so it requires at least two people to make sure it is functioning properly: someone remotely monitors it and another follows behind the bot.

Following one of the pizza bot's journeys showed that the bots seem to be pretty stable and safe; the robots know how to follow traffic laws and must yield the right of way to pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. It also makes for what feels like a slower delivery process.

The bot does a delivery to the Travis Heights area on Monday. (Laura Figi)

The robots are battery-powered and can only reach a top speed of 15 mph with its three wheels. Refraction AI argues that it doesn't make for a slower delivery time as they can take more efficient routes and don't have to find parking. It is also much faster than walking.

During the mile-long stretch of travel, the robot had to stop a few times and seemed particularly careful around cars. Impressively, yet still, very slowly, the bot tackled an enormous hill on East Live Oak Street that some cars would struggle to climb.

Inside the little boxy carts is 16 cubic feet of storage, which can fit around six bags of groceries, or several pizzas.

Customers living in the participating neighborhoods can order delivery bots, which deliver curbside. When the bot arrives at its delivery location, customers get their pizza by entering a special opening code provided to customers.

Deliveries with the robots officially kicked off Monday.


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