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Future Tech: 

The delivery robot to replace couriers


The self-driving delivery ‘bot that will bring you your groceries.

Amazon wants to deliver packages through the air using drones. Until that day comes to pass, we’ll have to make do with Starship. He’s a self-driving robot who’ll replace local couriers. He promises to deliver the goods to your door in under 30 minutes, and for a cost of less than $1. That’s even more impressive when you consider he only travels at 4mph, which is about walking pace for us humans.

He drives on sidewalks, and uses proprietary mapping and navigation technology to avoid crashing into obstacles. He even has microphones and loudspeakers on board to warn people that he’s coming up on the inside. You can watch a video over on the Telegraph showing him in action.

He’s the brainchild of Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. According to the co-founders, each Starship can carry 20 lbs, which is the equivalent of two grocery bags. They will be deployed from hubs, which will be located within grocery stores or warehouses. Each will return home between deliveries to recharge and be cleaned if need be.

If you think he looks a little vulnerable, don’t worry. He stays locked, with his cargo secure, until he reaches your front door. Then you unlock him using a smartphone app and retrieve the goods.

He’ll drive autonomously 99 per cent of the time, though a human driver can take control at any point, should the need arise.

“If anything comes up, like a difficult road crossing or a new unexpected situation on the roads, or if there are lots of people around and it needs to figure out how to navigate them, it can always call home, and the operator can see what the robot sees and overtake the driving,” said Friis.

Starship is currently in testing, though it plans to launch as a pilot service in the UK next year. Then it could spread around the world soon after.

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