The food delivery bots called talabots were introduced by talabat during Dubai Expo 2020 and were an instant hit. Although the Expo has ended, talabots have found a new home and are fully operational in the Cedre Villas Community.
I am fascinated by robots so I drove to Dubai’s Silicon Oasis to see them in action. As soon as I reached the Cedre Villas Community Center, I spotted the nook where the five talabots were waiting for their next orders. I saw the original three from the Expo that are named Happy, Grumpy, and T2D2, while the two new bots still need branding.
How do you place an order using talabots?
With a little help from our friends at talabat, I witnessed the entire process, starting from ordering your food through the app all the way to getting it delivered by the talabot. The process is fast and easy and only works if you reside in the bots’ service zone. When searching on the talabat app, you’ll find restaurants identified with “by Robots.” For example, the restaurant I ordered from was named “Oregano by Robots” on the talabat app.
After you’ve placed your order and the restaurant has accepted it, the talabot moves to the restaurant to pick it up. Seeing how these bots easily navigated their way through the Cedar Villa Community Center was awesome.
When the bot reaches the restaurant, the crew opens the trunk of the bot using their talabat-authorized device and loads the order into the back of the bot. Next, they press ‘Close’ on the bot, and it’s on its way to deliver the food.
talabots on the road
I followed the bot to see how it navigates the community around it. The bot can move up to 7km/hr and guarantees delivery for a 3 km radius in under 15 minutes. It easily crossed roads, avoided stationary and moving obstacles, and even transitioned from roads to pavements easily. None of this felt slow- the bot made immediate and instant decisions along its path.
When the bot arrives at its destination, it alerts the user via a notification in the application. Only the customer can unlock the trunk using their Talabat app. In the case of this delivery, the whole process took under 10 minutes, showing promise in efficiency and seamlessness for such autonomous delivery.
talbots are the future of deliveries – but not all of them
Generally speaking, future tech is usually too conditional or too far out for immediate functionality in our daily lives. However, the talabot is the opposite of that, and it’s great to see it working seamlessly- almost making me feel like I’m living in the future.
While I don’t think talabots will completely replace delivery drivers, as cities like Dubai are big and complex, they work brilliantly in smaller and structured communities that house a mix of restaurants and residents. I can’t wait for talabat to expand talabots to more communities- who knows, maybe robot deliveries might become a criteria when I move to a new place.
Mostafa’s journey in the tech journalism industry began during his teenage years, fueled by his childhood fascination with PC hardware, technology, and video games. Recently, his interests have expanded to include Esports and regional competitions.