Robot delivery vehicles developed by Starship Technologies will soon be seen on corporate and academic campuses across the United States and Europe. as the company announces their major commercial rollout.
Starship intends to deploy 1,000 of the small and autonomous robots to its partners before the end of 2018.
These new robots have been piloted already in Intuit’s campus. They are used to deliver office supplies and food. Users engage through an app, placing their order and specifying a delivery point – currently to the building rather than the user’s desk. Much like your Amazon delivery, Starship’s app updates the user when their delivery will arrive, and recipients then need to use their device to securely unlock the robot and secure their delivery.
While similar robotic delivery services are being piloted on a city level, for example in San Francisco, focussing on private campuses for their rollout allows Starship to circumvent municipal and legal challenges that are associated with the use of autonomous robots in public streets.
Starship’s announcement of this new venture comes just two weeks after a canceled press conference, at which it was thought that a rollout to San Jose would be announced.
As well as avoiding red tape, a campus environment means that there is a lower chance of an accident, or deliberate tampering, undermining the pilot project. While campuses are a far cry from the urban streets of San Francisco or San Jose, there is sufficient infrastructure, and sufficient challenges, for the robots to develop and learn to navigate complex environments with significant infrastructure, and human traffic.