The originators of online video and voice chat service Skype have announced the launch of a company called Starship Technologies that aims to bring self-driving delivery robots to cities around the world in 2016.
The robots travel at the slow speed of four miles per hour, a brisk walking pace. They travel on pavements, blending safely in with pedestrian traffic– Ahti Heinla, Starship Technologies
Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis say Starship Technologies aims to improve the local delivery of goods and groceries to the point where it is almost free.
The company will transport goods using a fleet of what it describes as small, safe, practical, and environment-friendly delivery robots.
The robots will travel on wheels, will be capable of carrying the equivalent of two grocery bags, and will be able to complete local deliveries within 5-30 minutes from a local hub or retail outlet.
Customers can also choose from a selection of precise delivery slots, meaning goods arrive at a time that suits them.
During delivery, shoppers can track the robot’s location in real time through a mobile app.
Heinla, who is Starship Technologies’ chief executive, said: "Our vision revolves around three zeroes: zero cost, zero waiting time and zero environmental impact. We want to do to local deliveries what Skype did to telecommunications.
"The robots travel at the slow speed of four miles per hour, a brisk walking pace. They travel on pavements, blending safely in with pedestrian traffic."
Starship Technologies is currently testing and demonstrating prototypes and plans to launch the first pilot services in 2016.
Images via Starship Technologies