What is Starship Technologies?
Starship Technologies is revolutionizing deliveries with autonomous robots. They are designed to deliver food, groceries, and packages locally in minutes. The delivery robots complete thousands of autonomous deliveries per day around the world. They drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take control at any time. Starship was founded by two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis.
Where is the company based?
Starship is an American company headquartered in San Francisco and with R&D facilities in Estonia and Finland. We also have offices in London, Milton Keynes, Washington, D.C, Mountain View, California, San Jose, California, Fairfax, Virginia, Flagstaff, Arizona, Pittsburgh,Dallas, Pennsylvania, Rotterdam and Hamburg, Germany
Where does Starship operate?
In addition to the number of locations in the USA, Starship is currently operating in UK, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Estonia.
Will you operate at my location?
We want to be good neighbours so we only operate in areas where we have the consent of the community, which means talking to residents and the local council. We will make a note of your interest and hope to expand into your area shortly.
How does a customer obtain delivery services from a robot?
The process is very simple. Customers use Starship’s mobile app to order their goods from participating businesses and select the time and destination for the delivery. The customer is then notified through the mobile app when their goods are ready for delivery, and can track the movement of the robot through the mobile app. Once the Starship robot arrives at its destination, the customer is notified. The customer can then retrieve their goods by unlocking the lid of the robot by pressing the unique ‘unlock’ button on the Starship mobile app.
How much does it weigh?
The robot weighs about 80 lbs (or around 36kg) empty, and the delivery compartment can hold around 20 lbs (ca 10 kg).
How fast does it go?
Up to 4 mph (ca 6 km/h).
Does it travel on roads or sidewalks?
The robot can travel anywhere a pedestrian can walk but mainly sidewalks.
Can it go up curbs?
Can the robot operate in rain & snow?
How does the robot know how to travel autonomously and safely avoid hitting things?
The robot uses a mixture of computer vision and GPS to know it’s location down to the inch. The robot has obstacle detection using a ‘situational awareness bubble’ around it. Using twelve cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radar, neural networks, and other technology the robots can detect obstacles, including animals, pedestrians/cyclists, and other delivery robots.
What types of items do you deliver?
Essentially Starship can deliver anything that can fit inside its delivery container such as parcels, groceries, food, laundry, medication, flowers, etc. The robot can have separate compartments for hot and cold food.
How does the robot know how to travel autonomously?
The robot uses a mixture of Computer vision and GPS to pinpoint its exact location to the nearest inch. We use proprietary mapping techniques to ensure accuracy.
How does the robot avoid hitting things?
The robot has obstacle detection. It has a ‘situational awareness bubble’ around it – featuring either twelve cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radars, neural networks and more to detect obstacles, whether that is a dog or a pedestrian/cyclist. The robot will always stop at a safe distance.
Does Starship make their own robots?
Starship designs and builds its own robots. In the future as the volumes increase Starship expects to use other contract manufacturers to build the robots as well.
What about privacy?
Starship never shares customer information and does not store such information on its robots. Although the robots are equipped with twelve cameras, we minimise the amount of information that we collect.
When the robots are operated by a human operator, the images are transmitted exclusively via a lower resolution feed, which is further obfuscated to conceal individual identities.
Any high-resolution images that are collected while the robots are in autonomous mode, generally remain on the robot for a very short duration and are then discarded. The full privacy policies are available at https://www.starship.xyz/privacy-policy/
What happens when persons with visual disabilities encounter a robot?
Sonic sensors and computer imaging assist the robots in identifying individuals who are in the vicinity of the devices. Regardless of whether or not an individual has visual disabilities, our robots are programmed to avoid pedestrians and to stop if an object appears in front of it, as well as slow down if an object is alongside of it. If a robot comes to a stop, for any reason, a remote operator is pinged and can immediately take control of the device and navigate it, using low-resolution cameras. In addition, Starship’s service app is fully compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) 2.0 AA. In addition, over the past few months, Starship has been working to transform its app from the ground up, enhancing accessibility and enabling smoother navigability for the visually impaired.
Starship aims to test and improve the new features once the COVID-19 public health emergency subsides, including the labelling of all elements for VoiceOver. In addition, Starship has created Predefined Pickup Spots, which will soon work with voice control in the app, enabling visually impaired customers to order food to a fixed location.
As part of the company’s efforts in this regard, Starship proactively engages advocacy organizations that work with the visually-impaired community. Please see:
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Are Starship robots safe for pedestrians?
Absolutely! Robots are low mass (approx. 70 lbs. without cargo), low speed (4 mph) devices that travel on sidewalks, using proprietary mapping, navigation and sophisticated obstacle avoidance technology.
Starship’s Robots are equipped with ten cameras, a sensor suite, radar, time-of-flight (TOF) capabilities, and are constantly monitored by a remote operator. Robots are capable of identifying objects in their vicinity and making the necessary course corrections to avoid them. When an object is adjacent to the robot, but not in front of it, the robot reduces its speed. When an object is in front of the robot, the robot will come to a complete stop.
Starship’s robots have now travelled over 1m miles in 20 countries and over 100 cities, encountering more millions of people. They have completed over 1.5 million autonomous deliveries and they cross more than 80,000 roads safely per day.
How do you stop theft of the robots and their properties?
Our robots are locked and secure during transport. The lid can only be opened using the customer’s mobile app or the company who are providing the goods to be delivered.
The robots are constantly monitored and equipped with twelve cameras and two-way audio communication systems. Any improper conduct will be detected immediately. If an incident does occur with a Starship Robot, one of our Robot Rescuers can respond quickly. The lid is locked and the robot is tracked to the nearest inch.
I’m worried one of your robots might hit my car/bike
Our priority is the safety and security of the communities we operate in. Our robots operate in a safe and non-hazardous manner so as not to endanger pedestrians, cyclists and other lawful users of public space and comply with traffic and pedestrian control devices, signals and signs.
Our robots are low mass and low speed devices that travel predominantly along pavements using mapping, navigation and sophisticated obstacle avoidance technology. This technology allows the robots to identify objects in their vicinity and make the necessary course corrections to avoid the objects.
The robots have twelve cameras, and a sensor suite that are our main source of information from mapping, localization, detecting cars and traffic lights. The robots are capable of identifying objects up to 200 feet away and making the necessary course corrections to avoid any objects. When an object is adjacent to the robot, but not in front of it, the robot reduces its speed. When an object is in front of the robot, the robot will come to a complete stop.
When operated between sunrise and sunset, our robots are equipped with a light on both the front and rear of the device that is visible on all sides in clear weather from a distance of at least 500 feet.
Our robots have been operating since 2016, interacting with millions of people around the world across 20 countries and over 100 cities and in that time.
What happens if the robot breaks down?
The robot will come to a safe stop. As the robot only goes 4mph, it can come to a safe stop very quickly without causing any surprise or harm to anyone in its surroundings. A member of the Starship team will then come and collect the robot if this was to happen on a rare occasion.
How do I report a safety issue?
At Starship we take safety very seriously and have built measures in our robots to avoid damage in various ways.
If you have had an accident involving personal injury please call first with the local emergency line. Then contact us via our customer support email firstname.lastname@example.org or chat. Please provide any relevant information (time, location and your contact information) so we can get back to you as soon as possible.
If there is any general feedback please also reach us via e-mail email@example.com and we will get back to you if any assistance is needed.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Response
What steps do you take to protect customers and partners from Coronavirus?
Starship operators and/or partners clean the robots before and after every delivery, with an emphasis on high areas of touching. As part of this cleaning regiment, Starship uses diluted bleach solution and wash cloths that are cleaned daily. Moreover, all persons touching the robots, including anyone handling food, are required to wear gloves.
Every evening the robots undergo additional cleaning protocols, including (i) a thorough cleaning of the robot’s lid handle with a bleach solution; (ii) a careful cleaning of the robot’s thermal bags, using a diluted bleach solution and allowing the solution to sit for 10 minutes before wiping down the bags; and (iii) a complete cleaning of the interior of the device with a disinfecting wipe (Clorox 70% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol). Thermal bags and dividers are rotated out of the robots on a weekly basis and subjected to additional cleaning protocols, i.e. soaked in a soap and water solution for 24 hours and then hand dried and air dried before being returned into service.