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Do you still give it a tip? Autonomous robot delivers takeout food in the U.K.

Leading online food-delivery service Just Eat teamed up with autonomous delivery bot company Starship Technologies to test a new robot-based delivery service in London. At present, the scheme is only available in London’s Greenwich suburb but will hopefully expand across the whole of the U.K.’s capital city in 2017.

“This is far from a gimmick; it is a great example of how Just Eat innovates and pioneers new technology to make life easier for restaurants and customers,” a spokesperson for Just Eat told Digital Trends. “We don’t expect there will ever be a time when all deliveries will be made by robot but the fleet will play an important role over time in complementing existing human deliveries, particularly during peak times when additional capacity is needed to facilitate deliveries.”

Robot delivery, they continued, offers an affordable, convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to human delivery service and has so far yielded “extremely positive” feedback from both restaurants and customers.

While takeout-wielding delivery robots may sound like a bad idea (particularly on a rowdy Friday or Saturday night), Starship’s robot is designed to be secure. As, essentially, an autonomous box on wheels, its lid can only be opened by the intended customer, using a keycode sent to them via text. It is also fitted with alarms, cameras and even a microphone and speaker in case human operators need to take over and de-escalate the situation.

“As soon as we met the Starship team, we found their passion for their product infectious,” a Just Eat spokesperson said. “With scalable innovation at the core of their business, they are the perfect partner for us at Just Eat as we continuously look for sustainable ways to use technology to improve choice and flexibility for customers and restaurants.”

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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