Heads up, Houston: the robots are coming.
Coco, the Los Angeles-based business that offers a remotely piloted delivery service, has hit the streets of Houston with its food-delivery bots as part of its expansion to targeted markets. Fueled by a recent funding round that garnered the company $56 million, Coco has already launched in Austin; its expansion plans also include rolling out bots in the Dallas and Miami markets soon.
Here in Houston, locals can look forward to delivery at restaurants including Brookstreet BBQ, Rustika Cafe, Ruggles Black, and Trendy Dumpling, according to the company.
Here’s how it works: Customers place a restaurant order like usual, then a Coco bot — operated by a “trained pilot” — drives to the restaurant to pick it up. The restaurant staff loads the bot as soon as the food is ready, and Coco arrives at the customer’s door within 15 minutes. Each bot is locked until it reaches the customer, so no one can tamper with your pizza or egg rolls.
The company claims that compared with traditional food-delivery methods, its bots decrease the time it takes food to reach the customer by 30 percent, and that the service has an on-time delivery rate of 97 percent.
Of course, Coco bots won’t be zipping up I-10 for a long-haul delivery; they’re meant to work at shorter distances and on mostly pedestrian paths. As the company’s website notes, “A surprisingly large portion of deliveries are done within less than 2 miles. We believe there is no reason to have a 3,000-pound car deliver a burrito over short distances.”
Coco claims to have transformed the food- and beverage-delivery landscape in its home market of LA, where, as of 2021, the company says it was successfully operating across all major Los Angeles neighborhoods.
It’s Coco’s trained pilots and commitment to “perfecting the last-mile delivery experience” that helps set it apart from competitors, according to the company and its partners.
Since the brand’s official launch in 2020, Coco claims to have experienced “unprecedented success” and has quickly overtaken brands that have been testing similar concepts for years. The company notes in press materials that Houston stood out to the brand as the perfect location to continue its rapid growth. “Coco ensures that the customer is at the forefront of their innovations and is excited to support the Houston community by partnering with local restaurants and businesses to provide a more reliable, and consumer-forward option for delivery,” Coco adds in a release.