Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the growth of e-commerce, but it has also increased demand for delivery robots. Starship Technologies said last week that its robotic deliveries have quadrupled globally since the beginning of the pandemic.
“This past year has been a game changer for autonomous delivery, moving adoption ahead by years,” stated Ahti Heinla, co-founder and CEO of Starship Technologies. “When we launched commercial delivery three years ago, we didn’t expect to be at the point we are today.”
“We marked the significant milestone of 1 million deliveries in January 2021, and we’ve since surpassed 1.5 million deliveries,” he said. “These rapid developments have also helped us scale the business, so we can provide a lower cost of delivery than any other option available.”
Heinla and Janus Friis, now chief architect, co-founded Starship Technologies in 2014. The San Francisco-based company's mobile robots are designed to deliver food, groceries, and packages locally within minutes. They drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take control at any time. Starship added that its zero-emissions robots have traveled millions of miles and make more than 80,000 road crossings every day.
Source: Starship Technologies
'On-demand generation' drives delivery records
Starship, which has offices in London; Washington, D.C.; Hamburg, Germany; and Tallinn, Estonia, said that its robotic services have proved to be especially popular with college students. It said that college campuses repeatedly set delivery records in the past year. This “on-demand generation” will help fuel the need for autonomous delivery well into the future, it said.
“I hadn’t even heard of robot delivery before I started school and now I don’t see a future without it,” said Claire Sunderman, a student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “Starship robots are really convenient and cool. I always brag about having them on my campus to my friends at other schools.”
“I love that I can get food delivered wherever and whenever I want, just by dropping the pin,” she added. “I think they are so neat, and it’s kind of surreal to just be walking alongside a robot while going through campus. I’d be perfectly happy to have a robot deliver a lot more things because it would save me so much time. Now that I am graduating, I will really miss the convenience and seeing the robots on campus everyday—I wish I could take one with me!”
College students quickly embraced Starship’s delivery robots when they began service at George Mason University in Virginia in January 2019. The company’s service is now available across 15 different campuses in 11 states.
The Starship Food Delivery app is available for download on iOS and Android. To get started, users choose from a range of their favorite food or drink items, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent.
They can then watch an interactive map as the robot makes its journey to them. Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert, and can then meet and unlock it through the app.
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