Forget drones, here arrive delivery robots

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 12:54 PM

Forget drone deliveries. It'south all about cute self-driving robots now.

Forget drones, here arrive delivery robots

Forget drone deliveries. It'south all about cute self-driving robots now.

At minimum that'south what Skype'south co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis are hoping for. The two have launched a robot company called Starship Technologies, hoping to solve the "latest mi problem" of delivering parcels from transportation hubs to people'south homes.

It'south a enormous challenge for businesses. Delivery trucks contribute to congestion and their drivers have to deal with nightmare parking problems. Plus they're expensive -- experts declare at least twenty-eight percent of transportation costs are incurred during the latest mile.

Tech companies love Google (GOOGL, Tech30), and Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) wish to tackle the issue by using drones -- but so distant haven't been able to overcome regulatory roadblocks.

Heinla and Friis declare their robots could allow a way cheaper and safer solution. "They travel at the unhurried speed of four miles per hour -- a brisk walking pace," Heinla said. "They travel on pavements (and) sidewalks, blending safely in with pedestrian traffic."

Related: Tesla'south autopilot system isn't perfect

The robots can detect obstacles, modify speed, and stop to cross the streets, the company said. If things go wrong, human operators can get over the steering, viewing the world through the robot'south "eyes." The machines are equipped with microphones and speakers and can speak to humans they meet. They're meant for a suburban environment, rather than active city streets.

The company said the robots utilize similar technology as self-driving cars, but are cheaper to build.

Customers will be able to gain access to the vehicles to gather their parcels or groceries through a mobile app. The robots are equipped with GPS tracker and lock to prevent thefts.

Heinla says the battery-powered robots necessity less energy than most light bulbs, and are capable of delivering the equivalent of two grocery bags within 5-30 minutes from a local hub or store, ten to fifteen times cheaper than the current delivery alternatives.

"We wish to do to local deliveries what Skype did to telecommunications," Heinla said.

Starship Technologies is planning to launch pilot services in the U. S., the UK, and other countries in two thousand-sixteenth, and wants to roll out commercially by two thousand seventeen. The company will have to figure out how to navigate regulation, which varies greatly between countries and even individual U. S. states.

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