Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc. is building an autonomous, electric delivery vehicle, it said Wednesday at the North American International Auto Show.
One of the robots has been working for a Detroit-area pizzeria since March, the company said.
"These are exciting times," Matteo Del Sorbo, executive vice president of Magna International and global lead for the company's Magna New Mobility arm, said during a news conference. "We're seeing the greatest change in the auto industry since the change from horses to cars."
Del Sorbo said the company developed the vehicle at its U.S. headquarters in Troy and a model has been delivering pies and other food for Brooklyn Pizza in Birmingham. He said the robot has delivered hundreds of pizzas to customers.
He said Wednesday's news about the delivery robot comes on the heels of a couple of announcements the Aurora, Ontario, Canada-based company made recently. One is Magna's investment of $77 million in Yulu, a company in India that makes electric two-wheelers. The other is Magna's partnership with Oakland, Calif.-based autonomous robot maker Cartken to build delivery robots.
Brooklyn Pizza owner Sam Abdelfatah said feedback from his customers about the delivery robot has been positive.
"It's a very new thing in the market and customers like to see a new thing like this," he said. "They like seeing a local business using new technology like this."
Abdelfatah said the robot hasn't had any problems making its runs. "The only thing it might encounter is drivers on the road stop and try to take pictures of it."
He said Michigan weather hasn't been an issue so far, since his shop has only been using the robot since March. Company officials said the machine is meant for the warmer months but the long-term goal is for it to be able to operate in all weather conditions.
He said the company is using just one delivery robot but hopes to add more. The pizzeria uses its robot to make single deliveries to customers, but it has the capability to make multiple deliveries, the pizza maker said.
Magna's technology in the robot includes an autonomous driving system that uses cameras, radar and LiDAR, the company said. The device can travel up to 20 mph on public streets.
Del Sorbo said the company wanted to make Wednesday's announcement at the auto show because "Magna has deep roots here in Detroit."
"And (this technology) was developed here in our Troy office and we're going to be deploying here in Detroit," he said. "We felt it was a very good story now that the Detroit Auto Show is back and in-person."
The Detroit News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.