Skype co-founders unveil self-driving delivery robots
Two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, have launched a new company, Starship Technologies, which aims to develop “self-driving delivery robots”. Starship Technologies claims that its robots will be “small, safe, practical, free from CO2 emissions” and set to “open up new opportunities for businesses such as parcel delivery firms or grocery stores”.
In what one assumes is a dig at the much-hyped drone industry, Starship added that “best of all” they will be “earthbound”.
In an official statement issued on Monday (2 November), Heinla commented: “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.”
Starship said that the robots will travel at around four miles an hour and be 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,” claimed Starship.
Heinla added: “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 company said it 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.
Starship employs 30 people and has offices in London, United Kingdom, and Tallinn, Estonia.