Getting delivery is exciting and during the height of the pandemic, it became a necessity. Starship found a way to make the delivery experience safer for its consumers while adding cutting-edge technology; robots. Now, before you think that a supercool robot is going to deliver your pizza, you should know they look more like little vehicles. Nonetheless, they're fully atonomous and Starship is working towards more of them bringing your food to you. We all enjoy our groceries and deliveries in a timely manner and these days often opt for contactless delivery. These issues and more are things that Starship tackles. Currently, the robots are able to make deliveries within a three-mile radius of the hub. For example, if a store decides to add a fleet of robots they would have the ability to send them to all the businesses and residences within that area. Starship is a part of a relatively new niche. The company started in Estonia, where they still do their engineering, and is headquartered in San Francisco. And, even though the technology has been around for quite a while it only recently started making a splash. These are 20 things you didn't know about starship technologies.
The company saw a surge in business during the height of the pandemic when there was a larger need for contactless delivery. After the rise in business necessity, the company leveraged it into more investment capital. According to Tech Crunch, in January 2022, European Investment gave the company a $57 million dollar loan. This is almost $20 million dollars more than the company's initial round of funding.
19. Heels of Success
The co-founders of Starship are the same pair who started Skype. Several years before the company launched, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis were trying to come up with their next-to-it project along with now former Chief Sales Officer Allan Martinson. As the trio talked the conversation went to autonomous robots and all the useful day to day tasks they could do. Interestingly, Heinla was currently participating in the NASA Centennial Challenge building robots for object retrieval. When they first started working on the project it was known as Project Echo.
18. Standing Out From The Pack
One of the things that make Starship stand out from other companies using autonomous delivery is that, unlike its competitors, Starship uses ground robots instead of drones. Some have said the robots look like beer coolers. One of the things that the company feels is a good reason to use the ground instead of air is that it makes it easier for humans to control them if and when necessary. Currently, the robots are able to move within two miles of the main warehouse and the robot is programmed to recognize a specially formulated address.
17. Heightened Security
Although many people might think their items may not be safe, Starship has implemented many different security features to ensure you're good and get to you safely. Some of the things the company did were install cameras and alarms as well as technology that tracks the robots within an inch. According to Venture Beat, an alert will be sent if the robot goes off course or makes an unexpected stop for a long period of time.
16. Finding Its Niche
One of the places Starship thrives is on college campuses. In August 2021, Starship added four more universities to its growing list; the University of Illinois Chicago, the University of Kentucky, the University of Nevada Reno, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach campus. The announcement coincided with the company's competitor, Kiwibot partnering with Sodexo. However, there is a keynote difference between the two companies. Kiwibot works more with the dining halls and campus stores. Whereas, Starship is all about the food delivery giants like Panera and Starbucks. This type of technology was a huge asset during the pandemic when social distancing is important.
15. Like it's Delivery Driver Counter Parts
Essentially, Starships robots take food delivery to the next level. Much like you are able to track the location of your food with traditional delivery drivers, Starship provides similar features which make for a more elevated experience. After downloading the app, you can drop a pin and the robot will bring your meal to the precise location. Additionally, the robot can be tracked efficiently, so you know when you need to go out and collect the meal. One final feature that is a standout is that you can simply unlock the robot from your app once your items have arrived.
14. Blast Off
According to Mercury News, Starship's robots have already traveled 3.2 million miles; roughly the distance of a dozen trips to the moon. The company has built its units to last. The robots are comprised of multiple sensors and cameras for safe monitoring and traveling as well as a sizable holding container. Additionally, the six wheels are designed for maximum stability to keep customers' orders safe.
13. Strategic Partnerships
In February 2022, Starship started delivering groceries near its headquarters city, San Francisco. One of the ways they accomplished this was by furthering the partnership with The Save Mart Companies which was launching its delivery app. To help it stand out from the crowd, the two collaborated, and now the company's flagship store, Lucky California in Pleasanton California.
12. Grocery Delivery of the Future
According to Produce Blue Book, Starship's autonomous robots are quite adept at delivering your groceries safely. Each unit can hold approximately three bags of groceries. Additionally, they have the ability to map the terrain intelligently which allows for less concern of squashed eggs from the store. This was an especially helpful feature in San Francisco, a city known for its hills.
11. Smart Marketing
One of the ways that the company is continually hitting the spotlight is because of its customers. Much like other things, Starship's customers like to post pictures of them receiving their groceries and often share photos of them alongside the robot delivery drivers on their pages. Many also share comments about the smooth and seamless experience and how it is one of the many reasons why utilizing this technology is so positive.
10. Ecologically Smart
Another reason that Starship is such a great addition to the market is that they help with carbon emissions. How often do we go to the store for a single item? Even if we use a delivery service for our convenience it does nothing for the environment. The technology in their robots allows them to cross over 100000 roads with no emissions. According to the company's website, Starship partnered with the Milton Keynes Council and found that there were almost 300,000 fewer trips to the store.
9. Meeting A Need
One of the things Starship found is that the last portion of the journey when you order a product is the most costly; not only for the consumer and retailer but also for the environment. The main goal when the company started was to be a disrupter and they have held to that mission. Co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis wanted to find a way to lower costs as well as make a sizable dent in the dense urban politician. Addiotannly, they hoped to make it more cost-effective. Since the company's launch in 2014, they've been diligently meeting and exceeding those goals.
8. Job Creation
One of the main reasons people shy away from wanting to use more technology like this is because they feel it will take away from existing jobs. However, Starship feels quite the opposite will happen. Because the robots are only designed to carry a finite amount of merchandise they can't do the same level of tasks that a human counterpart is able to accomplish. Additionally, there is no automation for packing the items into the cargo hold. Because of these factors, there will be a demand for more employees to pick and pack.
7. Cutting Edge Employment
Another thing that many people fail to see is that the robots need someone who understands their technology. Additionally, with the service they provide, there are many things that will need maintaining for the effectiveness of the services. Therefore, there will be additional employment opportunities for programmers and those familiar with this type of technology. So, more than taking away from our current economy or the jobs of other Starship is working on a strategic partnership between man and machine.
6. Pandemic Peak?
One of the concerns many had about the company is whether or not the success would continue after the worst parts of the pandemic ended. In several interviews, key company players addressed these concerns. One of the things they mentioned was that even during the pandemic the demand for Starship robots exceeded what the company could provide. So, they feel that it was a way to increase demand for this type of service. Additionally, since the pandemic many people have grown so comfortable with having things delivered it's doubtful they will want to go back, at least fully to the idea of going to the store for every necessity.
5. So Many Reasons
There are many reasons why choosing a robot to deliver your groceries. Let's face it, the first is because it's cool. Additionally, you are helping the planet because the company's technology is zero emissions. The heads of the company recognize this and also play on it. Alongside the selfies their customers' post and the time and energy they save companies, Starship enjoys being a niche in a niche. Having this distinction allows them to continue to disrupt technology.
4. Because They Look Cool
One of the things that Ryan Tuohy, Starship's senior vice president is most proud of is the robot's designs. In an interview with Mercury News, he talked extensively about their design features. Many people may be disappointed that they don't have a more human quality. After all, that would make for better selfies. However, Tuohy feels like the design they chose is "a non-threatening way to their environment they'd be sharing with humans." Even though it might be more fun to see one walk to your doorstep looking much like your next-door neighbor, the six-wheel cargo bus fits in much better. Although, it may give you pause because it goes at pedestrian speed.
3. School Spirit
At the beginning of this year, one school got a huge dose of robot spirit and a nifty way to get snacks when cramming for tests late at night. 16 robots were outfitted in Mustang colors, the mascot of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Since this isn't the first time a fleet of Starship autonomous robots popped up on campus many students were eager to see them on campus. According to Dallas Innovates, the robots have signage just for SMUs; "hungry? I deliver to Mustangs!" One student who talked to the media outlet said the company made it more convenient for him because his dorm is far away from all the places to eat. Another student commented on her experience. When she received her order she was able to tap several times on the phone and not only dismiss the robot but also make it play uptown funk.
2. Technology Crash Course
One of the things that makes the robots as next level as they are is AI machine learning. This combined with sensors gives the autonomous units the ability to map their courses within inches. The technology is so advanced that it can sense terrain and know when is best to climb curbs,c cross streets, and even operate in the rain and snow which we all know as human drivers can be a challenge. Even though the robots are able to successfully navigate alone, a human is on standby to ensure safe travel for everyone on the road.
1. Drone Verses Bot
Autonomous robots such as the ones Starship Technologies is offering are a much safer option. After all, they will never accidentally land on someone's head.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee