Driverless robots in Ann Arbor seek piece of food-delivery pie

Self-driving autos hold enormous promise for ride-hailing services and commercial transportation.

But the first autonomous vehicle you see in practical use might bring you lunch.

The REV, an autonomous robot made by Refraction AI, will begin making meal deliveries from four restaurants to a test group of 300 customers in downtown Ann Arbor beginning Jan. 3. Five feet tall, with three wheels and a fuselage like an oversized bike helmet, the 100-pound REV promises food drops for half the cost of existing delivery services like Grubhub, EatStreet and DoorDash.

If successful, REV could begin the transformation of downtowns into “Blade Runner”-like metropolises populated by wee bots hustling meal, grocery and document deliveries along byways at 15 mph.