Coco, a Los Angeles-based startup, has started to roll out its 50-pound pink delivery robots around San Pedro, Santa Monica, and other parts of Southern California. Previously known as Cyan Robotics, Coco operates a fleet of semi-automated robots that deliver food across neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The company announced that it has raised $36 million in a Series A round led by the CEO of OpenAI and former president of Y Combinator Sam Altman, Silicon Valley Bank, and Founders Fund.
Coco’s delivery robots are equipped with GPS tracking and two-way microphones. These robots are piloted by remote drivers and fulfill orders within up to a two-mile radius of stores and restaurants. Colapasta, an Italian restaurant located in Santa Monica, began using Coco after the company approached its owner. Stefano de Lorenzo, the owner of Colapasta, stated that fulfilling orders using Coco is slightly less convenient than working with human drivers from delivery apps as the staff has to manually load the food into the robot.
Despite the slight inconvenience among restaurant staff, there is positive reception from customers. “When we started using the service, I noticed that there were three, four, or five different orders the same day to the same address,” de Lorenzo said. “So I guess people were just loving (the robot) going to the house.”
Coco co-founder and CEO Zach Rash stated in a release, “I strongly believe the delivery service industry in its current state is massively under-serving merchants. We have an enormous opportunity to create a better experience for hundreds of thousands of merchants and their customers, today.” He added that Coco aims to shift the perception of people have when it comes to food delivery by using small, lightweight electric vehicles instead of large, gas-powered vehicles.
Rash claims that Coco has the largest fleet out of all the robotic delivery services in Los Angeles. Aside from Coco, delivery robot companies such as Starship, Nuro, and Kiwibot also operate in LA. The $36 million raise brings Coco’s total funding to around $42 million. With this, the company hopes to continue to expand and to continue increasing its fleet.
First launched in 2020 amidst the pandemic, Coco has expanded its operations from one Santa Monica neighborhood to six other locations in a little over a year. While stores and restaurants are now opening up, Rash said that the delivery sales numbers continue to increase and he believes that robot delivery is here to stay. “The pandemic gave it a huge boost. But I think what that really did is it changed consumers’ behaviors and let them understand the convenience that they can have by ordering delivery,” Rash said.