Autonomous delivery bots will soon stroll the streets of Washington D.C.

The pilot delivery program is slated to begin sometime in the next 4-6 weeks.

Some Washington, D.C., residents may soon be sharing the streets with Starship Technologies' delivery robots.

Back in June, Washington became the first U.S. city to approve a pilot program of the ground-based delivery robots. Among some restrictions, the D.C. Council bill specifies that PPDs, or personal delivery devices, must not operate above 10 miles per hour, must weigh less than 50 pounds without cargo, and must obey all traffic and pedestrian signs and signals.

Starship Technologies' bot is equipped to follow all of these guidelines. It weighs around 40 pounds and is capable of carrying about three filled shopping bags while rolling along at a safe speed of four miles per hour. It's also equipped with nine cameras and a number of sensors to help it avoid obstacles and allow remote operators to keep an eye on it.

Right now, most of the company's robots are under the constant supervision of an operator and a walking escort, but Starship Technologies hopes that its delivery robots will eventually be 99 percent autonomous.

Starship Technologies is the brainchild of Skype cofounders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, who wanted to bridge the last gap of "on-demand" deliveries by targeting the most inefficient delivery areas: residential neighborhoods. The company says its robots will be able to deliver goods within a one- to three-mile radius in 15 to 30 minutes.

Through an app, consumers will be able to order a delivery robot and choose the exact time they want their parcels delivered, for the cost of US$1. Other companies are also developing autonomous delivery robots, but Starship Technologies says it's not worried about the competition -- especially the one coming from the air.

"It takes a lot more energy to lift something off the ground than to just roll it across the ground at 4 miles per hour, and that affects the economics," says marketing manager Henry Harris-Burland. "Consumers don’t want to pay more for drone delivery, they may want to do it the first time, but then it’s gonna get old very quickly,"

Starship Technologies delivery robot Martyn Williams

A test run of Starship Technologies' delivery robot on the streets of San Francisco on September 27, 2016.

Of course, unlike aerial drones, ground-based robots have a greater chance of being vandalized and stolen. To discourage this, the team has equipped the bots with alarms, GPS tracking, a lockable lid, and a two-way speaker system. Starship Technologies has already experimented with real deliveries in the U.K., Switzerland, and Germany, and so far, they haven't had any instances of theft. It remains to be seen if U.S. residents will be as courteous.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags robots

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Magdalena Petrova

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?