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Refraction AI’s REV-1 Robot Delivery Gets Rolling in Austin

July 12, 2021

Austin restaurants and in-home diners now have a new delivery option as favorite local restaurants partner with Refraction AI to offer robot delivery to customer curbsides. Refraction AI, the last-mile delivery platform and creator of the REV-1 delivery robot, today announced the launch of its second location in Austin, serving the South Congress, Downtown and Travis Heights neighborhoods. Kicking off with Southside Flying Pizza, the pilot program debuts with a fleet of ten robots, with opportunities to expand as the program progresses and more partners come on board.

“This is truly a ‘wow’ moment as our city moves forward in ways that are inclusive, innovative, and intentionally improvisational,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “Introducing a last-mile delivery solution that’s tastefully original, accessible to our community and sustainable for the future of our city fits right in with that vision and contributes to making Austin a wonderful place to live for years to come.”

Refraction AI solves last-mile delivery logistics with a practical, economical, and sustainable application of mobile robot technology. With its innovative platforming concept, Refraction AI creates opportunities for myriad industries to improve access to their products, reach underserved customers, and reduce their carbon footprint. Fully-electric and built with a small form factor tailored to goods delivery, the solution contributes to more walkable, breathable cities with less traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

“Over the past year, it has become more apparent that our current solutions for on-demand delivery are broken; local businesses and households are having a hard time keeping up with rising fees while profitability remains elusive for even the biggest players,” said Luke Schneider, CEO of Refraction AI and longtime Austin resident. “Our expansion into Austin marks another step in our vision to transform last-mile delivery into a ubiquitous, accessible, sustainable service that anyone can take part in.”

“Collaborating with innovators in this space gives us an opportunity to learn more about robotic delivery and how it can benefit the community as we continuously work to improve our transportation ecosystem,” said Gina Fiandaca, Austin Assistant City Manager for Mobility. “We believe that greater access to robotic last-mile delivery will lead to a greener future with safer, less congested streets, and we’re excited to leverage the technology as we continue to prioritize both sustainability and equity.”

How it Works

Customers located in and around Austin’s South Congress, Downtown and Travis Heights neighborhoods can place orders directly through participating restaurants to be delivered by a REV-1 robot, directly to their curb. After placing the order, the customer receives a text message with a unique code to open the robot when it arrives, with delivery updates throughout the process. When the REV-1 arrives at its destination, the customer is notified to meet the robot at the curb and grab their goods by inputting the unique code they received.

Approximately the size of a person on a bicycle, the REV-1 operates primarily on the side of the road or in the bike lane, but can travel in traffic lanes and sidewalks as needed, where permitted. The robot has three wheels and stands 4.5 feet tall, 4.5 feet long and 30 inches wide. It weighs approximately 150 pounds and can reach a speed of up to 15 mph, which is fast enough to be nimble and deliver in a timely manner, while having the shortest stopping distance of any device on the road. The inside of the robot holds 16 cubic feet, or approximately six grocery bags.

Refraction AI has gained strong momentum in the last-mile delivery space since launching in July 2019. Following a $4.2 million seed raise in March 2021, the Austin expansion brings Refraction’s operations to a second city from its initial market launch in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the company continues to operate a last-mile delivery program in partnership with local restaurants and grocery stores.

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