Estonia-based robotics firm Starship Technologies has announced a major commercial roll-out of its autonomous delivery service, and hopes to release more than 1,000 robots into the wild by the end of 2018.
Starship, which was set up by two Skype co-founders, hit the news in early 2016 when a number of prototype robots took to the streets of Greenwich in south-east London to conduct field tests, examining variables such as human reaction to robots moving among them, as part of the borough’s smart city technology programme.
Having shown off its carbon neutral technology in a number of scenarios, Starship now hopes to bring wide-scale autonomous delivery services both to residential neighbourhoods, and corporate and academic campuses.
CEO Ahti Heinla said Starship’s robots had proven they could provide “accessible, convenient and sustainable robotic delivery”. Over the past two years, they have covered over 100,000 miles in 20 countries and 100 cities, encountering over 15 million humans as they went.
“After a successful start to the year and great reception to our robots, we are planning to dramatically expand our services and distribute thousands of robots across campuses around the world by 2019,” he said.
In the US, it has been working with financial software firm Intuit and cost-sector caterer Compass Group to establish an on-demand delivery service that brings stationery, drinks, snacks and even full meals to Intuit’s deskbound developers at its 4.3 acre Mountain View campus in Silicon Valley.
Starship said its campus robots helped increase efficiency and let employees get the most out of their work environments. On average, it takes 17 minutes to make a delivery on Intuit’s campus, enhancing productivity and helping staffers get more time to relax on their breaks without having to stand in line in the cafeteria – but to date, its most popular delivery item has been breakfast sandwiches.
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Ha Ly, Intuit lifecycle marketing manager, said: “I normally miss breakfast because I’m in a rush on the way to work, but this service has allowed me to have breakfast again, by bringing it to me.”
Srivathsan Canchi, a product lead at Intuit, said: “It didn’t take long after injuring my foot to fully appreciate the capabilities of Starship’s campus delivery. I love that I was able to get my coffee delivered to my doorstep!
“From the first time that you use this service, it’s easy to see all the ways it can enhance your work experience. For example, I probably won’t use outside suppliers to deliver lunch to meetings any more – I’ll just use Starship instead.”
Heinla described the roll-out of Starship’s campus offering as a major milestone in the development of delivery robots.
“Today’s announcement signals the next step in Starship’s journey. By providing campuses with our platform, we are leading the deployment of autonomous delivery at scale worldwide,” he said.