The companies plan to launch the project at Aeon Mall Tokoname beginning this month. Customers will be able to order from the Starbucks Coffee app and have their order delivered to designated delivery points inside or outside of the mall.
The partnership is new ground for Mitsubishi, who has never partnered with an autonomous delivery company like Carken before.
“Our aim is to develop market-beating tech with broader viability across verticals, not just the novelty that comes with an ‘MVP’ autonomous delivery service,” co-founder and COO of Carken Anjali Jindal Naik said. “We’re thrilled that admired companies like Mitsubishi Electric, who have paved the way in so many industries, recognize the quality of our platform, and we look forward to driving the next era of autonomous robotics in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world.”
Cartken was founded in 2019, and came out of stealth in March 2021, when it announced a partnership with REEF Technology to make deliveries in downtown Miami.
The robots picked up dinner orders from restaurants in REEF’s network of delivery-only kitchens to people within a ¾-mile radius. The order is passed off to a human partway through the order, who then brings it to the customer.
Cartken’s delivery robots are entirely autonomous, but have a remote monitoring system that allows for a human to take control at any time. They’re designed for deliveries over short distances, like in malls, business parks and local neighborhoods.
“Safety and dependability are the most important vectors of an excellent experience with autonomous delivery robots. Safety for the people the robot will interact with en route, and dependability of service to the end customer,” Naoki Fujita, manager of the innovation department at Mitsubishi Electric, said. “Cartken’s consistently high rating in these areas for both indoor and outdoor settings made them an excellent choice for this partnership as we think more broadly about Mitsubishi Electric’s future in the increasingly high-touch deployments of autonomous robotics.”
If the pilot program at Aeon Mall Tokoname is successful, the companies plan to expand to deliver from more stores in the mall and to other Aeon Mall locations.