Food Trek: Robot Vehicles Deliver Groceries in Ann Arbor

. July 8, 2020.

Refraction AI, a start-up company in Ann Arbor that delivers takeout food to consumers via autonomous robot delivery vehicles, has now expanded its business to include groceries.

The company has begun a partnership with the Produce Station on State St. to deliver groceries with its REV-1 (Refraction Electric Vehicles) to consumers who live within a three-mile radius of the store. The service is currently offered free of charge.

The process is simple — customers place an order through the REV Delivery website, and then they will receive a text with a code that allows them to open the REV-1 when it arrives with their food. Up to six paper bags of groceries can be delivered with the REV-1, Refraction AI says.

The fleet of Refraction AI robots have been an increasingly common sight on Ann Arbor streets since the end of 2019, when the company first began its pilot food delivery service. The company was the brainchild of University of Michigan robotics professors Matthew Johnson-Roberson and Ram Vasudevan, who had worked together on autonomous vehicles for decades before founding Refraction AI.

The business started small, delivering takeout orders from four Ann Arbor restaurants, but demand has increased in the months since the COVID-19 shutdown began. Refraction AI estimates that delivery orders increased by a factor of four in a matter of weeks.
Grocery delivery from Produce Station is available 10am-6pm, Monday through Friday. To place an order, visit revfood.com/prodstation. For more information on the REV-1 vehicles, visit the Refraction AI website.

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