CHARLOTTE, NC — Tiny pink robots are taking over North Carolina’s largest city.
If you’re out and about in Uptown Charlotte soon, you might see a cute pink robot at work. The pilot program could represent the future of grocery and coffee delivery.
Tiny Mile first introduced the robots in April, when Charlotte city leaders announced a partnership with the company to test a robotic coffee delivery service in Plaza Midwood.
Omar Elawi, Tiny Mile’s business development manager, said moving the robots downtown was a no-brainer.
“Because it’s so busy, it’s a high-visibility area because there are a lot of small shops and restaurants,” Elawi said.
Jeffery, as the robots are called, has heart-shaped eyes that blink at you. If you listen carefully, the robot will also say hello.
“These robots can drive around all by themselves,” adds Elawi. “They are respectful of the pedestrian lights, the traffic lights and the pedestrians on the sidewalk.”
How do you work?
“You go into the app, enter your pick-up address and drop-off address, the recipient number and the pick-up number, and then poof – the robot appears,” explained Elawi. “You put your package in the robot and use your phone to unlock the lid.”
Then Jeffery rolls to the drop-off location, which you can track on your phone.
He comes, you press a button and receive your package.
Elawi said the robots will not replace humans.
“These robots create more jobs than they take away,” he said. “They need an operator, a dispatcher, engineers, technicians — there’s a lot that goes into running these little robots, so jobs might be shifted but not taken away.”
There are currently between 8 and 10 tiny pink robots operating in Uptown Charlotte. If the program continues to be a success, Tiny Mile may add more.