Daxbot CEO Jason Richards with his fleet of robots and software developers have established a citywide online delivery system. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The latest innovation from the minds behind Dax, the cute little delivery robot that has become a common site around Philomath, creates promise for a better experience for both businesses and customers.

Daxbot just this week launched an online portal that offers a new level of convenience not only for those placing orders, but for the folks on the other end fulfilling those orders.

Said Jason Richards, Daxbot chief executive officer, “The idea was to really make something that from end to end, we handle the entire experience.”

Before this launch, people had the option to order food for Dax to deliver from the participating businesses but needed to contact the restaurant directly. The customer called in the order and gave payment over the phone and the restaurant had to work in that process into its workflow.

“It just wasn’t something that we could actually scale very well,” Richards said. “So we decided, OK, let’s take all that on ourselves and create a delivery pickup portal that people just go to a web address and put stuff in.”

The new system is designed to make Dax-related orders easier to handle on the restaurant end.

“It prints out the order, they make the food, they put it in the robot — and that’s it,” Richards said. “So it’s really nice for the restaurants and the customers are enjoying it, too.”

Daxbot employees monitor cameras on robots making deliveries. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Customers stay in the loop on the status of their order through the portal.

“Once they get the order, then we send text messages saying, ‘here’s where Dax is, you can follow him on a map going to your address.’ So, it’s pretty fun,” Richards said.

By the way, using the portal does not require the user to wait for a Dax delivery. Customers have the option of picking up the food themselves.

At the time of launch, La Rockita and Timber Towne are two options for customers. A third business, Philomath Market, is scheduled to come online in mid-June.

“In order to onboard a restaurant, there’s several things we have to do,” Richards explained. “One is obviously to get them set up with their printer with the little computer inside and the other is to train people because most people don’t know how to interact with a robot.”

The training process includes putting in “ghost orders” — products that go from the business to Dax’s home, a building located in the Alyrica complex on North 19th Street.

A Dax robot makes a delivery in a Philomath neighborhood on Thursday utilizing a new ordering portal. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“We did our first ghost order with Philomath Market yesterday (June 1) and delivered milk and cookies,” Richards said. “Once we feel that everybody is trained, that there’s no surprises on their end and on our end, then we do the full marketing launch and get all the flyers and stuff out there and let everybody in the community know.”

Daxbot is attempting to establish relationships with other businesses in town with hopes of significant expansion. A few of those spots have utilized Dax in the past for food deliveries.

“The feedback we got back from restaurants was the reason a lot of them didn’t want to use Dax previously was for the reason that it was too complex,” Richards said. “They were responsible for an iPad and putting in customer information and they’ve to go  and put in credit card information. Now there’s just a receipt that prints out — here’s what the order is. They just load the robot and the robot leaves.”

Beyond restaurants, other types of businesses could be coming on board. Philomath Market, as mentioned, is a convenience store but there’s also talk of Dax being able to deliver prescriptions at some point in the future, although there are a lot of hoops to jump through before that happens. The delivery of alcohol could also become a reality.

A Dax robot rolls down the sidewalk while delivering a lunchtime taco salad on Thursday. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“The next phase that we’re going to be doing with food delivery is the delivery of alcohol,” Richards said. “The OLCC (Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission) has a whole list of regulations. … Once we go through that process, then you can get (for example) pizza from Dirt Road and a growler.”

High-tech products hitting the market always have their share of bugs to work through and Daxbot’s portal is no exception.

“That’s the nature of software and technology in general — figuring out what bugs you need to squash,” Richards said, mentioning that the portal has been in development for a couple of months.

At this time, the developers have opted to not create a new app — for example, something smartphone users can download from Google Play or Apple. But that could be coming down the road.

“If you’re using it only once or twice a week or a month or whatever, it’s not something that you necessarily need an app for,” Richards said. “But yeah, it’s in the works for us to move toward that but the first thing is to get the bugs worked out on the easy side, a website, and then figure out what things people actually want as features.”

Customers using the Dax ordering portal receive access to a digital map that shows where Dax is located on his way to making the delivery. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Dax deliveries cover most of Philomath’s city limits these days, including the two newest large-scale subdivisions that have added new streets to the map. Richards provided an example of where Dax can’t go — Ninth Street beyond the sidewalks headed north toward West Hills Road.

“But pretty much anywhere in the city limits … even the parks and ballfields and stuff like that,” he added.

In the portal, the customer enters an address and the system performs a check to make sure it’s in Dax’s delivery area. As mentioned, individuals could still use the portal for ordering and picking up the food themselves.

As for what’s added onto the price of an order, the customer pays a flat rate of $2.50 for delivery and a service charge that basically covers the cost of the credit card transaction, Richards said. For example, added to a $22.95 order from La Rockita would be $2.50 for the delivery and $1.15 as a service fee.

The setup means Philomath businesses can get into Dax delivery with low overhead with those fees covering Daxbot’s expenses.

To access the new Dax ordering portal, go to this web address.