SAN FRANCISCO — Starship Technologies Inc., which claims to be “the world’s leading autonomous delivery service,” today announced that it has closed $40 million in Series A funding.
The company said it operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Starship’s zero-emission robots have traveled more than 350,000 miles, crossed 4 million streets, and have just marked the milestone of completing 100,000 autonomous deliveries – the first self-driving robotics company to reach this number.
Starship, which makes both restaurant and grocery deliveries around the world, has now delivered more than 6,000 pizzas, 7,000 gallons of milk, 8,000 coffees, 9,000 sushi rolls, and 15,000 bananas, as well as over 3,700 diapers.
With the closing of this Series A funding round, Starship Technologies has now raised a total of $85 million. Morpheus Ventures led the round with participation from prior investors including Shasta Ventures, Matrix Partners, MetaPlanet Holdings, and others, as well as new investors including TDK Ventures, Qu Ventures, and others.
Big robot presence on campus
The company also announced plans to expand its service to 100 university campuses in the next 24 months. Delivery robots arrived today at the University of Pittsburgh. Purdue University, Indiana is launching on Sept. 9, with more following shortly.
“This new investment will see Starship expand onto more campuses as we head towards a goal of offering our service to over 1 million students,” stated Lex Bayer, CEO of Starship Technologies. “An entire generation of university students are growing up in a world where they expect to receive a delivery from a robot after a few taps on their smartphone. The reception to our service both on campuses and in neighborhoods has been phenomenal. Our customers appreciate how we make their lives easier and give them back the gift of time.”
Starship rolled out robot delivery to university campuses this year in partnership with foodservice management company Sodexo Inc, starting with George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where it launched with what was then the world’s largest robotic delivery fleet. The company later added Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. Since the initial launches, both campuses have increased the number of robots, dining options and hours of operation to meet the high demand for the service.
“I’ve used Starship over 100 times in just a few months,” said Kevin House, a second-year student at George Mason University. “It’s really saved me so much time and reduced my stress, especially around finals. I love getting food delivered by a robot; it just makes life so much easier.”
Autonomous delivery robots arrive today at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and will soon be delivering from a variety of national and local retailers including Einstein Bros. Bagels, Common Grounds, and Roc ‘N Roll’d Sushi. The student meal plan will be accepted as payment.
Starship pulls ahead in robotic deliveries
“We’ve evaluated the autonomous tech market segment around the world, and Starship is miles ahead of others in bringing advanced technology valued by real paying customers,” said Nicolas Sauvage, managing director of TDK Ventures. “Starship’s machine learning, computer vision, and sensor fusion is the most advanced we’ve seen in autonomous robotic delivery. We look forward to contributing to the success of Starship in this important and emerging space.”
The Starship Deliveries app is available for download on iOS and Android. To get started, users choose from a range of their favorite food or drink items, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map.
Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert, and can then meet and unlock it through the app. Delivery fees vary by locations but are typically $1.99 or less.
The robots use a combination of sophisticated sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to travel on sidewalks and navigate around any obstacles. Starship robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow. Since the robots are battery powered they reduce pollution as well as congestion by removing cars and vans from the delivery process, claimed Starship.
In addition to university campuses, Starship also delivers groceries and packages in neighborhoods and a range of items on corporate campuses around the globe. The company has also played a role in helping to bring legislation allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks across nine U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and several countries.
The Robot Report has launched the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, which will be on Dec. 9-10 in Santa Clara, Calif. The conference and expo focuses on improving the design, development and manufacture of next-generation healthcare robots. Learn more about the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum.