How one company is betting on ground-based autonomous delivery solutions (delivery bots) to buck the airborne delivery drones trend.

Unmanned Cargo Delivery Concept – Chronicle 23

 

Skype Co-Founders Launch The Starship ‘Ground Drone’ For Deliveries (November 5, 2015)

(Editor’s Note: Are wheeled ground drones traveling along on city sidewalks a more realistic alternative to aerial drones for autonomous last mile deliveries? Maybe. It all depends in what environment they will operate. Gated communities, university campuses and retirement villages are likely candidates…)

What the Article Chronicles: 

According to Strategy&, by 2035 we will be living in a world where 1/6 of the cars on the road are driverless and 4 to 6 deliveries per week are made by drones. A world where brick and mortar stores will function more like distribution centers complete with rooftop landing pads for UAVs and garages for driverless delivery vehicle fleets.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise to hear that two former co-founders of Skype, already experienced in “disrupting” traditional industries, have created an Estonian start-up that will produce small ground-based autonomous drones that look “like a fridge on wheels with blinking LED lights”.

The goal?

To deliver groceries and other small goods in a way that will satisfy the e-customers constant desire for instant gratification services.

The terrestrial 6-wheeled concept will likely be able to deliver about 2 grocery bags worth of cargo – 20 lb (9 kg) within 5 to 30 minutes at 1/10 to 1/15 the price of conventional delivery. A mobile app would allow customers to track their delivery. The same app would allow them to unlock the Starship, thus adding an extra theft deterring layer of security.

As per the company website, the Starship delivery bot will have “practically zero environmental footprint” and “consume less energy than most light bulbs”.

Not just limited to point-to-point delivery of goods, alternative uses for the Starships include “rental and return” or “keep or return” services. First pilot is scheduled to launch in 2016 in both the UK and the US, with full service planned by 2017.

Official UAV / Drone Name:

Starship

Basic UAV/ Drone Description: 

Self-navigating, six-wheeled ground drones that will make pavement/curb-side deliveries from a local hub. Equipped with GPS, radar and cameras for easy navigation, the Starship will also include speakers and microphones to ensure some level of human interaction capabilities as the bot tries to seamlessly merge with pedestrian traffic. In case the drones run into trouble (e.g. difficult navigation, a theft attempt, …), “human overseers” would be able to take control.

Payload:

Approximately 20 lb (9 kg). The robot itself will not weigh more than 40 lb (18 kg) when fully loaded.

Range:

Approximately 3 miles (5 km) on a single battery charge.

Speed:

Top speed of 4 miles per hour (6 km per hour).

Companies Involved:

What are your thoughts on this new ground-based delivery drone concept? Comment below!

 

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