Self-driving robots are out and about in London. Starship Technologies, a company created by Skype founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, has created the ‘personal couriers’ as an answer to local deliveries, and they’re being tested around Greenwich as well as in cities in the US, Germany and Switzerland.
The robots, which use GPS and each have nine cameras, can travel at speeds of up to 4mph, use the pavements and are self-driving, though can also be controlled remotely by humans if necessary.
Welcome to the future
Our CEO Peter Veash commented on the news for Internet of Business, seeing it as a welcome move as long as their security doesn’t become an issue. He said: “Welcome to the future. Hearing about Starship trialling their delivery robots in Greenwich is like being transported to 2050. The robots will be driving on the pavement with no emissions which if deployed across the world would lead to a significant positive change for the environment. It’s a huge step for the delivery market and I sincerely hope the trial goes well. The only problem I see coming up is vandalism and theft but with the right security measures in place, retailers will have a state-of-the-art delivery system to take advantage of. Amazon trialled its flying drones which also seemed like something from the future but this seems like a more realistic approach.”
The takeaway sector will be one of [those] best suited to the robot delivery. I can already see the novelty of receiving your meal ‘on wheels’ creating a buzz on social media and therefore creating a whole new marketing channel with the robot surfaces being available to buy for advertisers.
Meals on (AI) wheels?
Hopefully Peter’s fears on theft of the deliveries or the robots themselves will turn out to be unfounded. The robots carry their cargo in a secure box that can only be opened with a code sent to the intended recipient’s mobile. They are tracked by a control centre who can take over their guidance and even speak to nearby humans if necessary – which no doubt comes in useful if anyone thinks of taking one for a ride. Peter thought the robots might have big appeal for takeaway delivery, saying “The takeaway sector will be one of the sectors that is best suited to the robot delivery. I can already see the novelty of receiving your meal ‘on wheels’ creating a buzz on social media and therefore creating a whole new marketing channel with the robot surfaces being available to buy for advertisers. I’m hugely excited about this new development and we shall see if it survives its first few missions without being disturbed too much on its way to its destination.”
And it looks like he’s correct about the robot’s appeal for takeaway businesses. Since the news broke, Just Eat has partnered with Starship Technologies to deliver their first takeaway. And with the business recently securing $17.2 million in seed funding, sooner or later you may be seeing them on a street near you.
Read more on technology and improving the customer experience in Why the Friday night takeaway is faster and foodier than ever.