Delivery Robots Rolling into Action Soon

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January 29, 2017

Coming to the streets of two American cities in February are delivery robots, on wheels.

The six-wheeled bots are the brainchild of Starship Technologies, a company founded in 2014 by Skype co-founders Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla.

Hugging the ground and going no faster than 4 mph, the delivery robots are designed for suburban areas no more than 3 miles from point of origin. A system of proprietary maps, nine high-resolution cameras, and a 360-degree ulatrasonic sensor array power the guidance system; LED lights advertise the presence of the bot on suburban sidewalks.

The person for whom the delivery is intended will operate a smartphone app to accept delivery, at which point the robot will open, revealing what's being delivered. Once delivery is complete, the bot will roll itself back to where it began its mechanized journey.

Starship Technologies has been busy in January, raising more than $17 million to build six of their wheeled delivery robots. DoorDash and Postmates, online delivery companies both, will be the first customers. Redwood City, Calif., and Washington, D.C., are the intended first markets.

The maximum delivery load is 20 pounds. The expected delivery fee is between $1 and $3.

Starship officials have confirmed that initial deliveries will be shadowed by human observers.

The company has tested the robots extensively in sevral countries around the world. Delivered have been groceries, takeaway food, and ordinary mail parcels. Starship has also recently been testing in the U.K., with online takeaway company Just Eat.

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