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Helpful robots invade downtown

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 by Tai Moses

A fleet of 10 personal delivery devices – i.e., robots – are being implemented throughout the South Congress District and surrounding neighborhoods to help with last-mile deliveries like takeout meals, packages and grocery store orders. The three-wheeled Rev-1 robots, which take up about as much space as a person on a bicycle, are owned by Refraction AI and are supervised by a remote operator “using a host of sensors and cameras.” The nimble, busy bots have arrived in Austin thanks to a May 2017 resolution in which City Council directed city staffers “to explore the robotic delivery model” in an effort to reduce traffic and single-driver car trips. A complementary resolution in August 2017 outlined the parameters of a pilot program for the robots. The Rev-1s are currently being escorted by Refraction AI team members, who are “happy to answer any questions you may have when you see them out and about,” cheerfully performing their duties.

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