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Stop Robbing The Little Delivery Robots

Food deliveries and grocery runs have been stolen from delivery robots operating in California and North Carolina

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A photo of two pink delivery robots on the sidewalk in LA.
You wouldn’t steal from a cute pink delivery bot.
Photo: David Swanson/Bloomberg (Getty Images)

The future is here, robots are out here parking our cars, cleaning our floors, and now delivery food and groceries to communities across America. But if we’re to succeed in this new robot-run world, we need to learn to live with our autonomous friends, and not keep robbing the little delivery robots.

Because that’s what’s happening in some communities that have started rolling out delivery robots to carry out grocery runs and drop off takeout orders. According to Autoweek, businesses in Los Angeles and Greenville, NC, have reported thefts from their delivery bots.


The LA delivery robots operate across West Hollywood and were built by a company called Serve Robotics. So far, operators in the area have reported the theft of goods from these robots, such as food. As Autoweek reports:

Early on delivery robot developers have tried to allay commercial customers’ concerns over the potential for theft from robots, showcasing locked compartments and plenty of surveillance tech on the robots themselves, in addition to loud sirens. After a honeymoon period of sorts early on in the pandemic where robots were generally left alone, this is no longer the case, and sirens aren’t stopping acts of theft and vandalism in all cases.

A white delivery robot driving along an empty road.
Just leave the lil guy be, ok?
Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times (Getty Images)

The robberies aren’t limited to California, and reports have also emerged of vandalism affecting GrubHub robots operating on the East Carolina University campus in Greenville, NC. There, robots have been found flipped upside down and have even been discovered in a creek.

In order to protect the bots, they are equipped with all manner of surveillance tech. But actually prosecuting people for stealing from these machines is proving much trickier than it is for people who shoplift from a physical store.

Despite the crimes falling under the same legislation for theft and vandalism, Autoweek reports that the low priority for police forces investigating such incidents means prosecution for these crimes remains unlikely.


Still, while the spate of robberies appears to be spreading, robot operators across the country say their little worker bots are still managing to hit a 99.9% delivery completion rate.