Skype Founders Launch Automated Delivery Robot

November 2, 2015

6:00 pm

In the race to deliver consumer goods more quickly, two of the original founders of Skype have launched a new business focused on automating the process. Starship Technologies, launched by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, today announced the release of a robot and automation system designed to make it easy for people to received local goods and groceries.

With a four mile range and a top speed of 4 MPH, the company is looking to work with logistic companies to reduce the costs at the end of the line for deliveries. Further, they want to make it easier for local companies to also complete with the likes of Amazon’s one hour delivery offering that started to rollout last year. With the use of Starship’s robot, delivery times will range from 5-30 minutes, and the consumer will be able to track the package via an app.

“We are talking to all the companies you would think of. There is certainly a lot of interest, because the last few miles of delivery, this is the most expensive part,” said Heinla, the Skype cofounder and CEO at Starship Technologies. “The most cumbersome part for them, and we are offering them a solution for that, that reduces the cost of the last mile delivery by a factor of 10.”

Currently the concept robot can hold about two grocery bags worth of items or the equivalent of 40 lbs. It will use cameras, sensors, and proprietary mapping and navigation technology to avoid crashing into obstacles. However, will it be able to thwart random acts of vandalism such as the untimely end of HitchBOT or face destruction similar to the fates of flying drones? We’ll have to see. Security wise there are not much details yet available, but the robot will open through the use of the app.

“Our vision revolves around three zeroes – zero cost, zero waiting time and zero environmental impact. We want to do to local deliveries what Skype did to telecommunications.” said Heinla.

The company plans to fully release their offering in 2016, and make it easier for organizations to make local deliveries cost as low as $1.

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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