SAN FRANCISCO — Food delivery company DoorDash Inc. has acquired Scotty Labs Inc., which is is developing teleoperation of vehicles. Scotty Labs said its software stack “seamlessly blends the safety assurances of teleoperation with the durability of autonomy.”
In a blog post yesterday, Tobenna Arodiogbu, co-founder and CEO of Scotty Labs, announced the acquisition. Terms were not specified. Scotty Labs came out of SRI International in 2017 and raised a $6 million seed round in March 2018.
DoorDash became the biggest on-demand food provider in the U.S. in February, surpassing GrubHub and Uber Eats, according to Edison Trends. It has raised $2 billion since its founding in 2013, and its Series G round raised $600 million in May 2019.
On the path from gig to autonomous delivery
While several technology companies and automakers are working on fully autonomous vehicles, Scotty Labs is taking the approach of teleoperation adding human intelligence in edge cases where self-driving cars might not be safe or smart enough.
“Our core belief at Scotty has always been that Autonomy + Remote Assistance will be the future of logistics,” stated Arodiogbu in his blog post. “We have intentionally always considered ourselves to be the anti-hype company and focused intensely on developing core infrastructure and algorithms, with a healthy degree of human intelligence, to ensure the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles.”
Arodiogbu also thanked his diverse and experienced team and cited examples of Scotty Labs’ work, including remotely driving a car around San Francisco and autonomously driving a truck.
Industry observers expect food preparation and delivery to be growth areas for robotics in the next few years. Food deliveries alone could be a $3 trillion market by 2030, predicts ARK Investment Management LLC.
Other companies working on autonomous deliveries include Postmates, which has applied for permission to test its robots on San Francisco sidewalks, and Starship Technologies Inc., which didn’t get permission in San Francisco but is expanding in other cities and campuses nationwide.
DoorDash, Scotty Labs pick up partners
Last year, Scotty Labs partnered with Voyage, which is providing autonomous shuttles in retirement communities. Terry Fong, chief scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, joined Scotty Labs as chief scientist in residence.
In January, DoorDash partnered with Cruise, General Motors Co.’s autonomous vehicles spinoff that raised $1.15 billion in May. It has also hired two co-founders of Lvl5 Inc., a mapping company that shut down in April, according to TechCrunch.
Earlier this month, DoorDash bought rival caterer Caviar from Square for $410 million. DoorDash also today announced a partnership with Revention, which provides point-of-sale and management systems for restaurant orders.
The Robot Report has launched the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, which will be on Dec. 9-10 in Santa Clara, Calif. The conference and expo focuses on improving the design, development and manufacture of next-generation healthcare robots. Learn more about the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum.