Domino’s may have had the idea first, but now, there’s another pizza-delivering robot roaming the streets — this time in Tallinn, Estonia. Created by Starship Technologies, this robot doesn’t just bring the pizza from the restaurant to the office, but rather takes care of the whole process, going both to and from Starship’s favorite joint, sometimes with cash in tow. And because the whole bot is covered with sensors and cameras, the engineers and project managers at home base Starship can keep an eye on the robot’s journey from start to finish.
Whenever the staff of the startup is ready for lunch, they send their robot out with payment locked securely in its body. It’s not until the helpful machine gets to the pizza parlor that the humans back at Starship press a button, unlocking the money-containing hatch and allowing pizzeria workers to replace the cash with hot pies.
And according to Starship CFO Allan Martinson, this is what delivery of the future is going to look like. With robots already 90 to 99 percent automated, humans may no longer have to deal with the drudgery of running errands. Today, 15 robots are currently being tested in London, Berlin, Tallinn, and Arkansas.
Forbes describes the robot’s appearance as “sleek and futuristic, like a stretched out version of Iron Man’s helmet.” Currently, a single human operator can control four robots from Starship’s headquarters, as the robots do need help with some tasks like crossing the road or avoiding obstacles. But as the robots become more acclimated to their surroundings, they reduce the need for human help.
Ultimately, Martinson said, the goal is to have one operator for every 100 robots. And having humans lord over a large fleet of automatons “is the cheapest way to build self-driving technology.”
Thus far, Starship’s robots have driven 3,600 miles on public sidewalks and met 130,000 people. “Most people don’t turn their heads and don’t pay attention,” Martinson noted. And if they do they are usually friendly and want us to succeed. No accidents. No incidents. No loss of property.”
Starship plans to bring its robots to the U.S. at large by the second half of 2016, and is hoping for a full-blown consumer launch for 2017. So if you’re looking for another way to get hot pizzas to your door, you better hope this timetable is accurate.