Big bot on campus: Starship's delivery robots roll off to college
After years playing at the fringes of urban delivery with various pilots of its robotic couriers, Starship is now going back to school. The company has today announced a new autonomous delivery service for campuses around the US and Europe, with the electric six-wheelers already carting breakfast sandwiches around a company headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Starship's robots have been busy since arriving on the scene in 2015, clocking up more than 100,000 km (62,000 mi) and encountering more than 12 million people in over 100 cities. They find their way around by using a mix of 360-degree cameras and infrared and ultrasonic sensors.
Having been tested as part of food delivery pilots in the UK, Germany and Netherlands, along with other trials in Estonia and Switzerland, their creators now want to see how they fare in the enclosed environments of academic and corporate campuses.
Customers can summon the delivery robots by opening up the Starship mobile app, which presents them with food ordering options from onsite cafeterias and restaurants. They can then drop a pin on the map to set a meeting point, the robot's cargo hold is then loaded with the food and it autonomously makes its way to the pin, pushing a notification to the user's phone when it's arrived.
When not in use, the robots reside in specially designed stations, where they can automatically swap batteries in and out to stay powered up. Currently, the pilot is in operation at software company Intuit's campus in Mountain View, where it is said to be delivering food and drink to staff in an average time of 17 minutes. Breakfast sandwiches are its most common cargo at the moment, but the company says it is capable of delivering all kinds of food and drink, and even stationery and tools.
"We've partnered with Compass Group on the Intuit Mountain View campus in the US to provide accessible, convenient and sustainable robotic delivery," says CEO, Ahti Heinla, Starship Technologies. "And after a successful start to the year and great reception to our robots, we are planning to dramatically expand our services and distribute thousands of robots across campuses around the world by 2019."
You can check out the company's promo video below.