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Skype Co-Founders Invent An Autonomous Robot That Drives Down Sidewalks To Deliver Goods

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It's becoming a rising trend for companies to start testing drone delivery services to quickly send packages to consumers. Now, former co-founders of Skype are joining Amazon and Google on the quest to have robots deliver your goods.

The former co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, announced the launch of their new company, called Starship Technologies, which has invented an autonomous robot that will drive down sidewalks to send local groceries and goods for free.

"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," Heinla, CEO of Starship Technologies, said in a press release.

The company's fleet of small, electric robots are free of CO2 emissions, making them an environmentally-friendly alternative that will blend "safely in with pedestrian traffic."

The delivery robots will use obstacle avoidance and navigation software to be able to be driven autonomously, although human operators will monitor them for safety.

They will be able to carry up to two bags of groceries (up to 20 lbs) and send the item within five minutes to half an hour from a local store at a speed of 4 mph. Consumers will be able to select their time of delivery and track the robot in real-time in anticipation of their items via a smartphone app. The robot will lock the packages while rolling down the sidewalk, with only the recipient being able to open them upon delivery by using the app.

"With ecommerce continuing to grow consumers expect to have more convenient options for delivery— but at a cost that suits them. The last few miles often amounts to the majority of the total delivery cost. Our robots are purposely designed using the technologies made affordable by mobile phones and tablets — it's fit for purpose, and allows for the cost savings to be passed on to the customer."

Businesses will be able to send goods in bulk to a centralized hub to have the fleet ship them out, and have the robots recharge when necessary.

Starship Technologies is in the process of testing robot prototypes, with plans to launch the pilot service in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries next year.

Source: Starship Technologies

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