Ann Arbor startup launches robot food deliveries

Robots on road no longer thing of future

ANN ARBOR – What do Miss Kim, Belly Deli, Chow Asian Street Food and Tios Mexican Cafe have in common?

They are now using robots to deliver lunch orders around town.

Starting Thursday, local robotics startup Refraction will begin lunchtime deliveries with its REV-1 robot. If you spend a lot of time in the downtown area, it’s possible you’ve already seen it out and about in the streets in its test phase.

How does it work?

To participate in the pilot program, fill out this form. Once you complete the form, you will receive instructions on how to place an order for lunchtime delivery.

Upon placing an order, customers will receive a unique code which they enter onto the robot’s keypad at curbside pickup.

The autonomous robot covers a 2.5 mile delivery zone -- almost the entire city.

“We’re thrilled to introduce this one-of-a-kind robot delivery service to the Ann Arbor community, and eventually, to more cities nationwide," Matt Johnson-Roberson, co-founder of Refraction said in a statement. “With rainy and snowy weather just around the corner, we can’t wait to show everyone what the REV-1 is capable of. We’re all very excited to give people a taste of what’s to come in the future of food delivery.”

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The REV-1 delivery robot is about the size of an electric bicycle and is lightweight and fast. At 100 pounds, 5 feet tall and 4.5 feet long, it can drive up to 15 mph. And be on the lookout if you are a driver or a cyclist -- the robot operates both in bike lanes and on the road.

Its interior can hold about four or five food delivery bags.

“Not only are we using cutting-edge technology and reducing carbon emissions, but Refraction’s robot delivery will help cut our costs," Ji Hye Kim, managing partner of Miss Kim said in a statement. "Delivery companies charge a significant fee to restaurants, while Refraction only charges 15 to 20 percent. It’s really a win-win situation.”

For more information, visit

About Refraction

Launched in July 2019, Refraction makes low-cost, lightweight AV robots for last-mile delivery. The smaller form factor of its autonomous robotic platform allows it to operate in both the bike lane and roadway, providing many of the benefits of autonomous vehicles with more route flexibility and safety.

Based in Ann Arbor, MI, and founded by roboticists and professors at the University of Michigan, the company is backed by eLab Ventures and Trucks Venture Capital.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.