“Listen to him scream.”
Meals on Wheels
Food delivery robots are now a common sight in parts of Los Angeles, where a startup has been testing them since last year — not without incident. Their arrival has also yielded reports of vandalism and theft targeting the machines, according to local broadcaster KTLA 5, along with video of people kicking and pushing them. Or, naturally, breaking into their mobile coolers to steal food.
While there’s no readily available information on how many bots have been impacted, local businesses are starting to notice how this bout of bot crime impacts them.
“We have to remake the food, but luckily we still get reimbursed for that,” said Blu Jam Café general manager Steve Avila to KTLA 5. “I can see how [delivery companies] can be hurting from it, especially because it seems like [the delivery robots] are pretty expensive.”
Many of the robot vandalism videos are uploaded to TikTok, where you’ll find Film the Robots LA, one of the more prominent accounts tracking the crimes, with the bio: “Putting robots in their place since 2022.”
One video from Film the Robots shows a man reaching into a bot cooler and grabbing food inside while a siren fills the streets with noise. Another video shows a man tipping over a robot on the sidewalk. A third features a half-naked woman sitting and rocking on top of a siren-wailing robot.
“Listen to him scream. No one respects him,” wrote the TikTokker.
Startup Serve Robotics, which has deployed many of these bots last year for UberEats, told KTLA 5 that while they’re aware of the incidents, their deliveries have a 99.9 percent completion rate and serve 200 restaurants and counting. And the company plans to expand their fleet in the city and launch their bots in other locales such as Dallas, San Jose and Vancouver, Canada.
With this news, expect more bizarre interactions pitting food delivery robot against prospective vandals, somewhere in a city near you.
More on food delivery robots: Food Delivery Robot Plows Through Crime Scene As Cops Look On in Bemusement