Robot delivery hits London streets
Robot delivery hits London streets

Robot delivery hits London streets

Ground-based delivery robots are heading near you if you live in London

While Amazon and Google are busy testing delivery drones, a startup company called Starship Technologies is about to begin its first ever trials of ground based delivery robots – in Greenwich, London.

Starship Technologies is the brainchild of two former founders of Skype, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. Their aim is to have a fleet of self-driving robots able to deliver goods within a local area within 30 minutes. The idea is that they can replace door to door deliveries currently made by large vehicles, and free people from the time they spend on personal shopping trips. Goods can instead be delivered to ‘Starship hubs’ from where the local deliveries are made.

The small, silent and efficient robot

The robots are small, six wheeled devices which use pavements to get from A to B. They are battery powered, can travel up to three miles and have almost no emissions. A top lid makes it easy to access their large internal box. The robots can be requested and monitored from a client’s smartphone. The recipient of a delivery needs to unlock the robot with their phone too.

The robots are able to detect obstacles and can alter their speed as needed. A human operator can take control at any time, can ‘see’ through the robot’s ‘eyes’, and can even communicate with people that are nearby if that’s needed.

Starship Technologies  says the Greenwich based programme is designed to demonstrate how easily these ‘friendly curbside robots’ can integrate into human life.

The robots will be on the streets of Greenwich as part of a testing phase which is expected to culminate in the launch of pilot delivery services later this year. Starship Technologies plans to launch similar testing programmes in the US in April.

Commenting on the news to Internet of Business, Peter Veash, CEO at the BIO Agency said: “Welcome to the future. Hearing about Starship trialling their delivery robots in Greenwich is like being transported to 2050. The robots will be driving on the pavement with no emissions which if deployed across the world would lead to a significant positive change for the environment. It’s a huge step for the delivery market and I sincerely hope the trial goes well. The only problem I see coming up is vandalism and theft but with the right security measures in place, retailers will have a state-of-the-art delivery system to take advantage of. Amazon trialled its flying drones which also seemed like something from the future but this seems like a more realistic approach.”

Also read: IBM’s Watson delivering robotic hospitality at Hilton Hotels

Robot delivery gets a takeaway

When asked which market segments might benefit most from delivery robots Veash commented:

“The takeaway sector will be one of the sectors that is best suited to the robot delivery. I can already see the novelty of receiving your meal ‘on wheels’ creating a buzz on social media and therefore creating a whole new marketing channel with the robot surfaces being available to buy for advertisers. I’m hugely excited about this new development and we shall see if it survives its first few missions without being disturbed too much on its way to its destination.”

Also read: Mercedes says production lines need more people, less robots