CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Small, heart-eyed pink robots will start delivering coffee and food from Undercurrent Coffee to Plaza Midwood residents thanks to the launch of new pilot program.
On Friday, the City of Charlotte announced a partnership with Toronto-based company Tiny Mile to test a robotic delivery coffee service in Plaza Midwood.
Officials say the two-month pilot program aims to reduce traffic and carbon emissions by using the robots to deliver coffee and food to anyone within a one-mile radius of Undercurrent Coffee’s location on Commonwealth Avenue.
Tiny Mile carefully selected Charlotte to debut its technology in the U.S., after company officials say it successfully and safely used remote controlled robots for deliveries totaling more than 62,000 miles in Canada.
“Tiny Mile is excited to be partnering with the City of Charlotte, one of the top ten technologically innovative cities in America, for our first official municipal deployment in the U.S.,” said Sharif Virani, head of growth for Tiny Mile. “Charlotte’s entrepreneurial and forward-thinking small business owners, like Undercurrent Coffee, inspire us daily in our attempt to make environmentally and economically sustainable local delivery a reality. We look forward to empowering the restaurants and retail businesses of Charlotte with low impact and affordable neighborhood delivery.”
Officials say Tiny Mile will operate five delivery robots in Charlotte.
Each controlled by a human navigator, with 360-degree camera views, and sensors for safety and security.
“In Charlotte, we are embracing new technologies and welcoming the future of innovation with open arms,” said City Council Member Malcolm Graham, chair of the city’s Economic Development Committee. “The pilot project will put this concept to the test and determine if it should be expanded to other areas of the city.”
Food and coffee for delivery will be supplied by locally-owned Undercurrent Coffee.
“It’s been exciting to partner with Tiny Mile and their innovative delivery platform,” said Todd Huber, owner of Undercurrent Coffee. “We’ve been impressed by the Tiny Mile team, the cute robots and the prospect of mitigating some of the economic, logistical and environmental challenges posed by food and beverage delivery services. We’ve been proud to host the team on site and witness the evolution of their service.”
Tiny Mile has also partnered with Odeko to build the application for ordering and delivery.
“Odeko is incredibly proud to announce that, in partnership with Tiny Mile and local café Undercurrent, we are testing semi-autonomous coffee delivery throughout the Charlotte area,” said Lauren Pelletier, vice president of engagement for Odeko. “Our hope is that by introducing a semi-autonomous delivery system we can help small businesses generate more revenue at a lower out-of-pocket cost.”