In a low-light Culver City, California control room, Lily Shaw is getting her pilot mood on.
A can of mint Guayaki Yerba Mate sits near her carefully manicured fingers. “Good jams to get pumped” from alt rock band Slothrust blast on her earbuds. Horn-rimmed, blue-light filtering glasses protect her eyes. Her favored chartreuse Xbox controller stands ready to command her laptop.
Shaw is set for her mission: piloting an order of burritos and doughnuts along Santa Monica sidewalks to a hungry customer.
It’s not exactly “Top Gun,” but Shaw’s job at delivery startup Coco highlights a little-known fact about the autonomous delivery robot industry, which is projected to mushroom in growth over the next few years. Those cute sidewalk-traveling ice chests on wheels aren’t completely autonomous, unlike the Roomba roaming your house.