Robots provided a much-needed connection to the outside world in Milton Keynes, the small city about 50 miles northwest of London, locked down to fight coronavirus.
Two years before the pandemic, a start-up called Starship Technologies deployed a fleet of rolling delivery robots in Milton Keynes, one of the fastest-growing cities in Britain, with a population of 270,000 and a vast network of bicycle paths, is perfectly suited to rolling robots.
The squat six-wheeled robots shuttled groceries and dinner orders to homes and offices. As the coronavirus spread, Starship shifted the fleet even further into grocery deliveries. Locals could buy from the corner store with no human contact.
Starship Technologies is revolutionizing deliveries with autonomous robots. They are designed to deliver food, groceries, and packages locally in minutes. The delivery robots have travelled tens of thousands of miles and met millions of people across 100 cities around the world. They drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take control at any time. Starship was founded by two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. Former AirBnB executive Lex Bayer is CEO.
The robots already in operation in Fairfax, VA (George Mason University); Flagstaff, AZ (Northern Arizona University); Pittsburgh, PA (University of Pittsburgh); Monkston (Milton Keynes, UK); London; Hamburg (Germany), and Tallinn (Estonia).
What are some of the robot’s tech specs?
The robot weighs around 20 kg empty and the delivery compartment can hold up to 10 kg. It can travel up to 6 km/h and it uses a sensor suite for navigation and situational awareness.
The GPS and CV based navigation uses proprietary maps and allows for 1 inch navigation precision.
The robots can drive autonomously in pre-mapped areas. The mapping process is highly efficient and involves the robots under human control for the first runs. After the routes have been mapped, the robots can at any given time turn to remote human operators for assistance when making decisions in unexpected situations or when dealing with social interaction.