Skype co-founders launch a company with a mission to make local delivery free
Starship Technologies announces the introduction of self-driving delivery robots.
London, United Kingdom, 2 November
Former Skype co-founders have today announced the launch of a new company, Starship Technologies, which aims to fundamentally improve local delivery of goods and groceries, making it almost free.
Starship Technologies will introduce fleets of small, safe, practical, free from CO2 emissions, and best of all, earthbound, delivery robots, which will create unprecedented convenience and cost savings for individuals, while opening up new opportunities for businesses such as parcel delivery firms or grocery stores.
“Our vision revolves around three zeroes – zero cost, zero waiting time and zero environmental impact. We want to do to local deliveries what Skype did to telecommunications.” said Ahti Heinla, a Skype co-founder and CEO at Starship Technologies.
Capable of carrying the equivalent of two grocery bags, the robots can complete local deliveries within 5-30 minutes from a local hub or retail outlet, for 10-15 times less than the cost of current last-mile delivery alternatives. Customers can choose from a selection of short, precise delivery slots – meaning goods arrive at a time that suits them. During delivery, shoppers can track the robot’s location in real time through a mobile app and on arrival only the app holder is able to unlock the cargo. Integrated navigation and obstacle avoidance software enables the robots to drive autonomously, but they are also overseen by human operators who can step in to ensure safety at all times.
For businesses, Starship’s technology eliminates the largest inefficiency in the delivery chain, the last mile. Instead of expensive and time-consuming door-to-door delivery, retailers can ship the goods in bulk to a local hub, then the robot fleet completes the delivery to the shopper’s door for a fraction of the cost.
Heinla continues: “With ecommerce 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 robots are intended to slip seamlessly and safely into the environment. “They travel at the slow speed of four miles per hour – a brisk walking pace. They don’t fly – these are not drones. They travel on pavements/sidewalks, blending safely in with pedestrian traffic.”
Presenting an entirely new and altogether better delivery option for shoppers and all kinds of businesses, robot delivery also opens up new opportunities, such as point-to-point delivery of goods, or “rental and return”. Starship Technologies is currently testing and demonstrating prototypes and plans to launch the first pilot services in cooperation with its service partners in the US, UK and other countries in 2016.
About Starship Technologies
Starship Technologies is a European technology start-up building a fleet of self-driving delivery robots designed to deliver goods locally within 30 minutes. Designed using ‘off the shelf’ components, the robots are lightweight and low-cost, enabling the company to bring the current cost of delivery down by 10-15 times per shipment.
The robots drive autonomously 99% of the time to make safe and environmentally friendly pavement/curb-side deliveries from a local hub. Launched by two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, Starship’s aim is to fundamentally reshape how goods are shipped and delivered, and make local delivery, almost free.
The company employs 30 people and has offices in London, United Kingdom, and Tallinn, Estonia. Former Skype co-founder Ahti Heinla serves as the company’s CEO and CTO, serial tech entrepreneur Allan Martinson is Chief Operating Officer and tech and mobile industry veteran Keith Cornell is Chief Commercial Officer.
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