Search This Blog

Monday, November 2, 2015

Starship Technologies Plans to Bring a Fleet of Delivery Drones to the Streets

As reported by Design Boom: formed by skype co-founders, starship technologies is a european startup planning on building a fleet of self-driving delivery drones made to transport goods locally within 30 minutes. designed using readily available components, the robots are lightweight and low-cost, enabling the company to bring the current cost of delivery down by 10 to 15 times per shipment.
the fleet will reduce CO2 emissions, and will create unprecedented convenience for individuals while opening up new opportunities for businesses such as parcel firms or grocery stores. the robots are intended to slip seamlessly into the environment, traveling at slow speeds on sidewalks blending safely in with pedestrian traffic. starship technologies are currently testing and demonstrating prototypes and plans to launch the first pilot services in cooperation with its partners in the US, UK and other countries in 2016.

‘our vision revolves around three zeroes – zero cost, zero waiting time and zero environmental impact,’ explains ahti heinla, a skype co-founder and CEO at starship technologies. ‘we want to do to local deliveries what skype did to telecommunications. with e-commerce 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 the total delivery cost. our robots are purposely designed using the technologies made affordable by mobile phones and tablets – it’s fit for purpose, and allows for the cost savings to be passed on to the customer.’

The drones will travel on sidewalks at about 4 miles per hour for package weights of up to 20 lbs.  The top lid opens to fit small and medium sized packages and the unit is opened through the use of an app on the customer's smartphone.  The units can also be tracked by the deliverer or the customer.

Starship's robots are said to be "99-percent" autonomous, which means that although they'll drive themselves, human oversight will be present at all times, ready to take control if the robot gets confused.

Starship Technologies is clearly targeting companies that want to compete with services like Amazon's Prime Now one-hour deliveries -- although there's no reason why Amazon couldn't integrate this robot into its supply chain if it proves as cost-effective as claimed. The company still has a lot of questions to answer, though. It says the robots "consume less energy than most light bulbs," but that's not exactly the most precise metric. We also don't know how much it'll cost companies to run and maintain a fleet of bots, or whether Starship can secure the necessary regulatory permission to ride on sidewalks. Assuming it can answer those questions, and the many more that'll arise in the coming months, Starship says it'll launch "pilot services" in partnership with other companies across the US, UK, and other countries in 2016.