Marble Begins Mapping Arlington Sidewalks for Future Robotic Delivery Service
By Office of Communication
Posted on August 20, 2018, August 20, 2018

Marble is the first company to begin mapping the City of Arlington's sidewalks as routes for its autonomous robots to soon deliver groceries, packages, and other common goods to people's homes and offices.

The San Francisco-based, last-mile logistics robotics company began mapping select north Arlington sidewalks on Friday, Aug. 17, in preparation for a city-approved pilot program of its intelligent, four-wheeled delivery robots. Marble has not announced which company or companies it plans to partner with in Arlington but said the sidewalk mapping is an important step in being able to provide this unique personal delivery service between local businesses and nearby customers.

"It is exciting to begin our mapping process alongside Arlington's forward-thinking leadership that embraces emerging technologies aimed to improve the accessibility of goods and services in neighborhoods," Marble CEO Matt Delaney said.

In June, the Arlington City Council approved a resolution to show support and encouragement for private companies in the growing autonomous technology industry to come to The American Dream City to test and deploy robotic delivery devices in a real-world environment. Marble is the first to respond to that welcome, bringing two of its electric-powered devices to one day provide delivery service to north Arlington neighborhoods.

Marble is already testing robotic delivery service in places including San Francisco and Concord in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now thanks to Marble's planned pilot project, Arlington is poised to become the first city in Texas with robotic personal delivery devices operating on its sidewalks.

"We're excited to see Marble here in Arlington. People are already used to the convenience of ordering items online and having them delivered right to their doorstep. We're looking forward to learning how these personal delivery devices, which offer an innovative solution for the delivery of food and packages, can help our residents with limited mobility or transportation issues or help those who simply want to avoid getting in their cars to make a short trip to the store," said Alicia Winkelblech, Assistant Director for Strategic Planning.

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Arlington, which became the first city in the country last year to offer ongoing autonomous shuttle service to the public, has developed a reputation for its interest in exploring technology-based mobility solutions. Arlington is also on its way to becoming the first city in Texas to offer on-street autonomous vehicle transportation service to its residents and visitors through a pilot program that could begin in October, pending City Council approval on August 21.

The City is not providing funding for Marble's innovative sidewalk delivery pilot program, but it is working to provide a supportive environment. As part of the City Council's resolution, companies are allowed to operate autonomous, electric robotic delivery devices on city sidewalks to deliver packages.

These walking-pace devices, which would require the intended recipient to enter a code to access their delivery, typically travel three to four miles per hour and are designed to make shorts trips ranging from a few blocks up to two miles. For example, from a store to the front of a resident's home.

Marble's goal is to have the robot interact safely and politely while operating in the public domain. The robot, which drives autonomously, is monitored by a Marble Ambassador at all times.

Marble is currently mapping areas to assess optimal routes from the store to door and return. During the process, Marble will determine the location of sidewalks and addresses within the area that the robot can reliably use for delivery. The Marble robot uses LIDAR, cameras, and other sensors to understand the world around it. It knows when people are nearby and can politely and safely navigate amongst them.

"The mapping process in Arlington lays the groundwork for the delivery robots to understand the environment and learn routes that will support more efficient and reliable deliveries of groceries, packages, and common goods," Delaney said.