Skype co-founders build delivery robot that moves at 4mph
When e-commerce, fast-food and courier companies are trying various alternatives for delivery boys, Skype founders have rolled out their own delivery robot. Some may advocate the robot to be less convincing in comparison to a drone (most companies have tried) but there are chances of a bot being the future of delivery. The two Skype founders have created a company, Starship Technologies. Under the name Starship, the autonomous delivery robot has been created which can move around on sidewalks carrying packages.
The robot can move at a convincing speed of 4mph and can carry a weight up to 20 pounds. Interestingly, company believes the robots, which are almost 99 percent autonomous, can cut down last mile delivery costs significantly.
Being autonomous, the robots can drive themselves, under human vigil. If the robot goofs up, a human rider can take over wirelessly. The delivery packages remain locked safely in the bot’s belly. The robot can only be unlocked by the mobile phone of the recipient (courtesy an app).
All seems so cool for now. But there’s a catch. Given the Starship robots slow speed and limited range, the company would require setting up numerous Starship hubs in a given city (each small hub serving few miles area).
While, Starship has a vision to provide a cost effective alternatives to companies looking for something like Amazon’s Prime Now one-hour deliveries – the bigger plan is to have companies’ ship goods in bulk and a fleet of Starship robots then delivering packages door to door.
According to Ahti Heinla, CEO at Starship Technologies,
Our vision revolves around three zeroes, zero cost, zero waiting time, and zero environmental impact.
Heinla informs that drones are electric but since they are reliant on the grid for charging, they are not completely eco-friendly. Though, they are ‘undoubtedly friendlier than traditional delivery vans and bikes.’
Albiet there are many things that need to be sorted before robot delivery fleet can make it to the streets, but according to the company, a pilot service will be launched in US and UK and some other countries next year.