Starting from July, millions of people will have a chance to encounter autonomous delivery robots on the pavements of the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland as part of the testing program announced today by Starship Technologies and major industry partners. A similar program will be announced for the United States shortly.
The largest European food delivery company Just Eat, leading German parcel delivery company Hermes, leading German retailer Metro Group, and innovative London food delivery startup Pronto.co.uk will test the delivery robots developed by Starship Technologies, a company launched in 2014 by Skype co-founders.
As part of the program, dozens of robots will be deployed in five cities to run first test deliveries and introduce the innovative devices to the general public.
“By launching partnerships with major companies we will enter the next phase in our development. While Starship has been testing the robots in 12 countries in the last nine months, we will now develop know-how on running real robotic delivery services,” said Ahti Heinla, co-founder, CEO and CTO of Starship Technologies.
Robots developed by Starship Technologies are meant for delivering packages, groceries and food to consumers in a 2-3 mile radius. The robots can drive autonomously while being monitored by human operators in control centres. Introduced to European and American cities since the end of last year, the robots have already driven close to 5,000 miles and met over 400,000 people without a single accident.
“The partners we’re working with are at the top of their game – passionate, driven and quick to embrace new technology, making them the perfect choice for us to truly demonstrate our robotic delivery solution,” said Allan Martinson, Chief Operating Officer of Starship Technologies. “We’re sure to come up against challenges on our journey, but our aim will never change – to re-define convenience and customer service for the consumer, whilst making the last mile industry for businesses cost effective, efficient and profitable”.
David Buttress, CEO of Just Eat said “We are continuously looking for ways to use technology to make our customers’ lives easier – whether that’s how people order or pay for their food or how the food is delivered. Starship are right at the forefront of innovation in the delivery sector and so it’s a natural fit for us to be partnering with them to bring delivery robots to our high streets.”
Frank Rausch, CEO of Hermes Germany, said: “We are very proud to be Starship’s exclusive logistics partner in Germany. At Hermes we believe that parcel delivery’s main goal is to fully satisfy the customers’ needs in receiving their online shopping orders as fast and convenient as possible. Nobody likes to spend hours waiting for the courier just to have a parcel delivered. Therefore, individually scheduled delivery services will become increasingly important within the coming years. By testing Starship robots for the last mile, we use the opportunity to boost our service level and make parcel delivery even easier and more comfortable than it is today.”
James Roy Poulter, CEO and Co-founder at Pronto said “As soon as we saw the Starship delivery robot we knew this was the solution we’d been looking for in our mission to make it even easier for people to access quality, affordable food at the touch of a button.
We can’t wait to launch this test programme in London and roll it out in time across other cities as we expand our reach both in the UK and abroad. We hope to see the streets lined with thousands of these robots bringing people their hot, ready-to-eat Pronto meal on-demand and providing an even more cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly delivery solution for our customers.”
The test programs will run in London, Düsseldorf, Bern and another German city to start, before moving to several other European and American cities. Starship Technologies will also continue testing in Tallinn, Estonia where its R&D facilities are located.