The small, electric-powered prototype robot can carry the equivalent of two shopping bags securely to your door by driving at pedestrian speed across the city’s sidewalks.
The idea is that you choose a delivery slot that works for you, and the robot drives itself over with your items in the assigned time, rather than you needing to wait around for the courier.
Once out for delivery, you can follow the robot along with a smartphone app. Only the person who is expecting delivery can unlock the cargo hold, though with the device using footpaths in the city it’s not hard to imagine them being stolen entirely instead.
Starship is based out of London, and says that the robots run integrated navigation and avoidance software so are fully autonomous, but also have a human operator overseeing the fleet.
According to Starship, automating the delivery makes it 10-15 times cheaper than other alternatives and much more efficient — it says that they have effectively “zero” environmental footprint and consume “less energy than a lightbulb.”
The robots only go up to four miles an hour and can navigate around pedestrians, but it’s not clear how that offers any benefits over drones — other than that they may be widely available sooner.
The company says that pilot services will start in the US, UK and other countries in 2016. The current device shown on the company’s site is a prototype, but the BBC did see one driving around a park.
Would you prefer delivery by self-driving robot, or drone?
Published November 2, 2015 — 10:01 UTC