Starship Technologies Inc. this week announced that it has made a €50 million ($55.7 million U.S.) quasi-equity facility agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB). The San Francisco-based company said it will use the funding for research and development at its innovation facility in Tallinn, Estonia.
“We’re proud of our European roots as well as the growing team there that remains a vital part of our operations,” said Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Starship. “As the market leader in autonomous delivery, we are constantly looking to innovate and find new ways to improve our service.”
“This backing from the EIB will help enable us to continue to reshape last-mile delivery and bring the benefits of on-demand delivery and convenience to millions more people,” he said. “The additional engineering resources that we will hire in Europe will be another key component in making this possible.”
Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis formed Starship in 2014. The company said its robots have been operating at Level 4 autonomy since 2018, completing more than 2.5 million commercial deliveries. It claimed that they have traveled more than 5 million km (3 million mi.) globally, more than any other autonomous delivery provider.
European investors support sustainability
The EIB is the lending arm of the European Union (EU) and said it is one of the largest providers of climate finance. Starship Technology's financing, which is supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, has been facilitated via a venture loan. The company, which raised $17 million a year ago, said it plans to build thousands of more zero-emissions robots in Tallinn.
“Electric vehicles in all shapes and sizes will be part of our future, and can be a key part in the sustainable transport puzzle,” said Thomas Östros, vice president of EIB. “Starship’s delivery robots are already proving their worth, and we are glad to support the company so that they can continue to develop their technology and scale up their production.”
“This EIB funding for Starship is a great example of how the Investment Plan for Europe can boost innovation in Europe,” stated Paolo Gentiloni, commissioner for the economy. “The additional funding will benefit the development of the company’s autonomous delivery services, thereby further improving services for consumers and contributing to Europe’s ever-growing and vibrant research, technology, and innovation ecosystem.”
Starship to expand autonomous service
Starship Technologies said its autonomous mobile robots are designed to deliver food, groceries and packages on sidewalks within minutes. The company offers its services in university and industrial campuses, as well as in cities in the EU, U.K., and U.S. It plans further expansion in the near future.
Starship's delivery robots can conduct multiple deliveries in a row, completely autonomously. They make more than 100,000 road crossings every day.
“This is why the cost of a Starship delivery is now lower than the human equivalent, which is believed to be a world first for any robot delivery company, whereas most others are still majority human-controlled and in pilot mode,” asserted the company.
The Starship Food Delivery app is available for download on iOS and Android. To get started, customers choose from a range of their favourite food or drink items, then drop pins where they want their deliveries to be sent.
Each user can then watch as the robot makes its journey via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, the customer receives an alert, and can then meet the robot and unlock it through the app.
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