By John Ramos

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — They say the wheels of progress turn slowly. But a few blocks from the UC Berkeley campus, those wheels are currently bringing food to hungry students.

Kiwi Campus is a new Berkeley company that uses small robots to pick up food from Telegraph Avenue restaurants and deliver it to people in a 1½ mile area of the UC Berkeley campus.

The idea was born when Felipe Chavez ordered a $10 burrito and had to pay another $10 just to have it delivered.

“That was kind of shocking,” said Kiwi Campus founder Chavez. “So there should be a way that we can get things on-demand without paying the double or the triple.”

The Columbian-born entrepreneur put together a design team to create the “KiwiBot.” It’s basically a picnic basket mounted on a radio-controlled car.

But the iPhone on top is relaying camera information to a computer inside that is actually teaching the robot how to navigate the neighborhood.

“We have to make a lot of trips to make him learn how to do it,” said Kiwi Campus Chief Operations Manager Sergio Bachon.

It’s not easy. The bots have small wheels and can’t always handle the uneven sidewalk, so the operators have to stay pretty close by.

But the idea is to one day make them totally autonomous.  And the team believes within 10 years these sidewalks will be full of robots making deliveries.

“Not just food; including mail, including everything,” said Chavez. “It’s going to be made by robots. That’s going to happen. It’s something that we can’t avoid. And we want to be part of that.”

Right now they seem more like toys, but the robots are attracting a lot of attention. So if you are walking around Telegraph Avenue, keep an eye open and you might get a glimpse of tomorrow.

The future is coming. And it’s bringing burritos.

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