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Starship’s Delivery Robots Hit the Road in Washington DC


Starship Technologies’ autonomous delivery robots are going to make their debut in Washington DC and Redwood City, California (via Starship Technologies)

Starship Technologies’ autonomous delivery robots are expanding their US presence, with pilot projects to be launched in Washington DC and Redwood City, California. This follows a string of similar approvals for testing the technology in various cities worldwide.

The London-based company was founded in 2015 by former Skype’s executives Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. Its six-wheeled robots were designed to solve the so-called “last mile” problem— that is, the final phase of goods and groceries home delivery.

The buggies are said to be able to transport up to nine kilograms of shopping in their trunk,  driving autonomously within a radius of 2-3 miles. They rely on nine cameras and computer vision algorithms to navigate the city, avoid obstacles and even capture the face of whoever tries to tamper with their cargo. While the vehicles are practically self-driving, in case of emergency a human operator can remotely take them over  and steer them clear of danger.

The robots are being tested in various locations— from London, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Bern and Tallinn in Europe, to tech-savvy US locations like San Carlos and Menlo Park. According to the company, the robots have so far roamed around for about 12,600 miles altogether, and interacted with some two million people.

“After successfully securing permission in Washington, DC and Redwood City, we can expand our extensive research and development program” Starship CEO Ahti Heinla said in a statement. “We actively seek out places like Washington, DC and Redwood City that share our vision for the future of delivery and we look forward to working closely with them during our pilot.”

Redwood City’s mayor John Seybert commented: “We’re excited that Starship Technologies chose Redwood City for this innovative autonomous robot program. It has strong potential to not only reduce traffic in Redwood City, but allow restaurants and businesses to serve a greater number of customers.”




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