Starship Technologies launched its first fleet of Postmates delivery robots into the streets of Washington, D.C., on Thursday following a successful two-week trial run.
Approximately 20 of the robots will be used by the food delivery service in Georgetown and 14th Street neighborhoods to bring customers their orders. Last month, Starship announced a handful of the robots, along with guides to explain the technological phenomenon to pedestrians, would hit the district.
The D.C. Council was slated to decide whether to allow the robots go to full throttle and celebrated their addition to the city on Thursday, according to photos posted on Twitter. Last year, the D.C. Council passed a bill allowing wheeled, unmanned vehicles like the robots to roam the public sidewalks.
Residents and tourists walking around the district’s Northwest quadrant started spotting the six-wheel robots around town in February. D.C. and Redlands, Calif., are the only two cities in the country where Starship’s technology is being used, though Door Dash is testing the robots on the west coast, while Postmates has dibs on Washington.
The robots travel up to four miles per hour, but cannot leave the ground like a drone. The machines carry food and other items inside their hulls. Once the robot has arrived at its destination, the customer confirms it in the app, which triggers the container to open only at that time or when it is picking up a delivery from a business.
“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,” Ahti Heinla, CEO at Starship Technologies, told Fox-5.
Each robot has nine cameras onboard, which keep it from running into people and objects. The moving machines are also free from CO2 emissions. If successful in their U.S. trial, the robots could drive down the cost of deliveries, the company said in a press release, though possibly at the cost of jobs for human delivery runners.
Source: Washington Examiner