Your delivery man is about to become a delivery machine — literally. A new pilot program from Starship Technologies wants to bring robotic delivery to the masses, starting in Redwood City, California, with DoorDash, and Washington, D.C. with Postmates. For the last couple years, Starship has been developing a fleet of robotic personal couriers, and now, they’re putting them to the test.
“DoorDash and Postmates are championing on-demand local delivery, sharing Starship’s vision to save customers time and money” said Ahti Heinla, CEO and co-founder of Starship Technologies. Indeed, the two companies are among the most popular delivery services in the U.S., as they complete millions of delivers annually across much of the U.S.
And now, those deliveries may be completed by autonomous bots that navigate sidewalks, holding packages in their hulls. To retrieve their contents, customers need only to push a button, whereupon they’ll be able to grab whatever they ordered from the robot’s “trunk.” Of course, these deliveries probably won’t be coming to you all that quickly — Starship’s robots hit top speeds of just 4 miles per hour (to keep pedestrians safe), and generally deliver only within a two-mile radius. That means that these robots won’t be replacing humans — at least, not yet.
“With DoorDash’s goal of building the local logistics layer for every city, we have a clear shared passion with Starship for revolutionizing last mile delivery,” said Stanley Tang, co-founder and chief product officer at DoorDash. “By adding robots as a complement to the tens of thousands of Dashers who use the DoorDash platform, we’ll be able to better delight customers with faster, more convenient deliveries. While other companies trying to play catch up in the delivery space either ignore the law or chase ideas like drones that lack the infrastructure to be implemented, we’re excited to be bringing autonomous deliveries to customers in weeks rather than years.”
Postmates echoed this sentiment, with its senior vice president, Holger Luedorf, noting, “We’re very excited about robotics and how we can better utilize the technology to enhance our already strong delivery fleet. We know there is still a long way to go, but we’re excited to team up with Starship on this pilot program and see how the robots are received by our customers and merchant partners.”
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