Skype founders launch startup to deliver packages by ‘grounded’ robots
‘Our vision revolves around three zeroes – zero cost, zero waiting time and zero environmental impact ‘, said Heinla, CEO at Starship Technologies. However, Starship Technologies has a different idea in mind: small autonomous robots that can drive along sidewalks to make deliveries.
‘We want to do to local deliveries what Skype did to telecommunications’.
The Starship Technologies robots are capable of carrying around two bags’ worth of groceries across a limited distance, at between 10 and 15 times the cost of a traditional delivery service.
Drones have been touted as the future for home deliveries but robots could beat the UAVs to the market.
Instead of expensive and time-consuming door-to-door delivery, retailers can ship the goods in bulk to a local hub, then the robot fleet completes the delivery to the shopper’s door for a fraction of the cost.
“With ecommerce continuing to grow, consumers expect to have more convenient options for delivery – but at a cost that suits them”. “The last few miles often amounts to the majority of that total delivery cost”.
Customers will be able to track the robot’s location through a mobile app, and upon arrival only the app holder will be able to unlock the cargo. At this juncture the Starship robot is still being tested out and is meant to be used primarily in the suburban areas. For the most part these have so far focused on the use of drones, with Amazon, Walmart and most-recently Google, all seeking to find an airborne solution to the problem of delivery. The robots may be charged and cleaned once they return to their hubs, only if deemed necessary. “They travel on pavements/sidewalks, blending safely in with pedestrian traffic”.
Friis told The Telegraph that the robots can be controlled by humans at any time if anything unexpected comes up, adding that the robots will need to be driven by a human to help the robot get the lay of the land when it’s deployed in a new area.
Starship Technologies is in the process of testing robot prototypes, with plans to launch the pilot service in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries next year.