What's the latest in consumer goods delivery technology? Not flying drones, surprisingly. An Estonian robotics company called Starship, with an ex-Skype engineer at the helm, has unveiled a prototype for an on-ground, pedestrian, self-driving robot that can deliver up to two bags of groceries safely to your doorstep. Deployed from a central hub, Starship robots will be loaded and deployed as customers order their packages. The estimated delivery time is about 20 minutes, with the robots traveling at roughly pedestrian speed on the sidewalks. To address possible vandals, the fleet will be working with human operators who can communicate via a speaker and even call the police. Aesthetically, the robots are also made to look "cute" for better assimilation among pedestrians.
The Competitive Advantage
The process of going house to house is considered to be one of the most time-consuming and expensive parts of the delivery process. "This part of delivery can be done using a robot. This is not rocket science. This is simpler to do than a self-driving car from a technological standpoint," says Starship CEO Ahti Heinla.
Automating the process allows companies to make deliveries at a lower cost, almost 10-15 times cheaper than other alternatives. Environmentally, the fully autonomous robots have virtually no environmental footprint and consume less energy than a lightbulb. Each robot can travel up to four miles per hour, easily navigate around pedestrians, and deliver your package at an assigned time, eliminating the need for customers to wait by the door for their deliveries. Starship robots are set to start pilot services in the US and UK as early as next year.