An Estonian robotics company called Starship, founded by ex-Skype engineers, has unveiled a prototype for an on-ground, self-driving robot that can deliver up to two bags of groceries to your doorstep. The robots, equipped with GPS technology, are almost completely autonomous, but will be guided by humans at all times to take control of the machine should it get confused as it completes its task. It will take an estimated 15-20 minutes to complete the delivery from the time customers place their orders, with each robot able to travel up to four miles an hour, easily navigate around pedestrians using sensors and cameras, and deliver packages at a specific time. Customers can then open the Starship's "cargo bay," which securely locks-in their orders and can only be opened using the recipient's mobile phone. Aesthetically, the robots are also made to look "cute" for better assimilation among pedestrians. Starship robots are set to begin pilot services in the US and UK as early as next year.
Automating the delivery process allows companies to reduce logistical cost. Going house to house is considered to be one of the most time consuming and expensive parts of the process and "this part of delivery can be done using a robot," says Starship CEO Ahti Heinla."This is not rocket science. This is simpler to do than a self-driving car from a technological standpoint." From an environmental perspective, the fully autonomous robots virtually have no carbon footprint and consume less energy than a lightbulb as well.