Starship Technologies has raised $17.2 million in January aimed at building a fleet of 6-wheeled delivery robots. Starship was co-founded by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis and its robots are more feasible for large scale roll-outs when compared to drones. These delivery robots will be making their USA debut in Washington D.C. and Redwood City, California this month.
On test day, Starship robots will be accompanied by an employee that will be walking behind the robot. The employee is intended to take care of unexpected incidents and pedestrians who’re too curious. The scene might even resemble like a parent walking along with their toddler while it learns. The robot’s maximum speed is 4mph and will be serving Postmates and DoorDash as its first two customers in US.
Starship robot has already demonstrated its abilities in UK, Germany and Switzerland. As of November 2016, it had over 12,000 miles under its wheels. It features 9 cameras, 360-degree ultrasonic sensor array along with a Nvidia Tegra K1 processor. These specs allow it to take in the surrounding, map the environment and avoid any obstacles that might come in its way. Oh and Starship weighs in at only 35lbs.
Although universal robot delivery is still a way long way off, such steps sure are bringing us closer to that reality. These robots can currently carry only 20 pounds of loads within a 3-mile radius. Senior Vice President of Business at Postmates, Holger Luedorf says that the upcoming test is part of a learning curve. The company will consider aspects such as delivery time, delivery quality as rated by customers and feedback from merchants to ascertain if it wants to pursue this robotic delivery system on a bigger scale.