Autonomous delivery startup Starship Technologies announced today it had raised $90mn on its mission to “make science fiction a reality” and roll out its self-driving robots across streets in Europe and the US.
There are sci-fi scenarios where robots turn on their makers, hunt them down, and initiate either the enslavement or the extinction of humanity. Then there are the R2-D2s and the BB8s of the genre — resourceful droid helpers that somehow manage to tug on our heartstrings nearly as much as a Pixar puppy.
While perhaps not quite as empathy-inducing, Starship Technologies’ delivery robots are decidedly more reminiscent of the latter. They are designed to deliver food, groceries, and packages locally, serving the “last-mile” and on-demand segment of delivery supply chains. They can also navigate challenging situations and obstacles such snow and challenging terrain. Since their introduction, the company says the “99% autonomous” robots have completed over six million deliveries.
Autonomous deliveries from Tallinn to the world
Starship Technologies was founded in 2014 in Estonia. The company’s robots now exist in 80 different locations across the globe, including the UK, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, and the US. The company recently partnered with ride-hailing unicorn Bolt to deliver food to customers in its hometown of Tallinn, with plans to roll out thousands of units together in other countries.
It is now looking to expand even further, thanks to the fresh batch of funding led by Plural and Iconical. This includes rolling out a first-of-its-kind wireless charging solution, recently introduced at George Mason University in Virginia, and its Delivery as a Service (DaaS) product, which sees Starship robots integrate into the delivery infrastructure of its partners.
Starship was founded by Skype co-founder Janus Friis and its chief architect Ahti Heinla, who is also the company’s CEO. With this recent funding round, Starship Technologies has now raised $230mn in total.
Heinla emphasises that building a company like Starship takes at least a decade of perfecting the technology, streamlining operations, and reducing costs to make its offering viable and sustainable at scale.
“Now we’re ready to take on the world and with ambitions to build a category-dominating company that can change the daily lives of millions of people in thousands of locations worldwide,” the co-founder added, highlighting the startup’s enterprising plans for the future.
In other words, look out for a Starship robot on a street near you in the not-too-distant future. Throw in some R2-D2 sound effects and we might order stuff delivered just for the sake of it. (Since the average delivery only requires as much energy as boiling a kettle for a single cup of tea.)