In late 2015 Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis (founders of Skype) launched a new company: Starship Technologies. The focus of this new company is an autonomous robotic food delivery service. Tiny robots carrying up to 20 pounds of food ideally will be integrated into cities and restaurants worldwide to quickly deliver food to their hungry customers. The robots have locking mechanisms and full scope cameras – monitored by humans (not other robots) – to ensure that food isn’t stolen or tampered with. Paired with the user friendly app, when the food arrives the customer confirms delivery at which point they are granted access to open the latch and the robot releases their food to the rightful order-er.
“Our vision revolves around three zeroes—zero cost, zero waiting time and zero environmental impact,” says the founders of Starship. Source: Business Insider.
Business Insider did a test run of the bot in March to see how the bot reacts to everyday foot traffic and navigation hiccups. With 6 wheels, the bot can hurdle itself over curbs and maneuver around similar obstacles on its route to you. For example, unable to detect a walking sign at a light, the bot detected a human close by and when they crossed the bot zipped along with them. The bot keeps up at a human pace buzzing around at a brisk 4 miles per hour. Bystanders viewed the bot curiously, snapping pictures and looking around for it’s “owner”. A young child even asked to pose with the bot for a photo op. So far there has been no foul play with humans attempting to rob the bot or tamper with it. Overall, the bots have “met” over 400,000 customers and trekked 5000 miles over American and European countries in the past year in these trials. If they were to run into trouble though, an alarm system is set off and it remains locked. Attempting to steal the 30-pound cumbersome contraption is also off putting to potential thieves.
The bot cautiously navigates through sidewalk construction. Source: Business Insider.
DoorDash is one of the first delivery services to integrate the robots and have welcomed 6 new “employees” to their services. Quick deliveries around the corner of only a few blocks are unappealing to the human couriers and that is when the bots will swoop in to save the time and energy for larger/farther orders. They compliment the restaurant delivery industry rather than take away jobs. For now.
Delivery bots are equipped with several cameras that deter any foul play. Source: Business Insider.