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Starship was established by Skype co-founders Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla in 2014. It is headquartered in San Francisco and its engineering department is based in Tallinn, Estonia.
The company’s squat six-wheeled robots have become a familiar sight in cities in more than 100 countries. The robots trundle along pavements at walking speed and are equipped with a suite of sensors to allow for autonomous navigation (although they may be remote controlled if their system fails). They are used to delivery takeaway food, groceries, and other small parcels.
Starship announced that it had raised more than $17m (£14m) in seed funding in January 2017, and a further $25m (£21m) investment in June 2018, including backing from the founders of Skype and Airbnb. Now it has announced that it has raised another $40m in an investment round led by Morpheus Ventures. The funding comes from some previous Starship investors, such as Matrix Partners and MetaPlanet Holdings, as well as some new investors.
According to the company, this funding will be used to expand its delivery services to more US university campuses.
Starship also announced that its robotic fleets have now completed more than 100,000 deliveries and travelled more than 350,000 miles (560,000km).
The company has been working with partners such as Just Eat to test the feasibility of its autonomous delivery system. In December 2016, Starship and Just East surprised a customer in Greenwich, South London, by delivering their Turkish takeaway by autonomous robot for the first time. Starship and other companies exploring autonomous last-mile deliveries have faced some opposition from locals frustrated by the chunky robots taking up pavements during trials.
In May 2018, Starship Technologies told E&T that: “Social acceptance is key to the success of the robots and it’s an area where Starship has been very pleasantly surprised. Believe it or not, the vast majority of people are positive about the robots.”
This article first appeared on eandt.theiet.org
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