Starship picks up $17m funding after 1 million deliveries
Robot delivery company Starship Technologies has reached one million autonomous deliveries six years after its creation and raised a further $17 million for this year’s growth plans.
Co-founder & CTO Ahti Heinla announced in a blog posting: “Today I’m proud to announce we have reached one million autonomous deliveries, more than 6 years after founding the company in 2014. We believe no other company in the world has completed this many autonomous deliveries — including self-driving taxi rides.
“We’ve also raised an additional $17m and added service to two new campuses — UCLA and Bridgewater State University (Massachusetts) in the US. This new investment brings Starship’s total funding to $102m to date.”
Fast growth with contactless deliveries
The Starship co-founder stressed: “The additional funding comes at a time of increasing interest in the autonomous delivery industry. Contactless delivery has proved to be one of the most reliable ways to protect vulnerable populations and enable social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re proud to be providing contactless food and grocery deliveries at such a challenging time for so many people. Demand has increased 5x in neighborhoods since the beginning of the pandemic.”
According to an accompanying graphic, Starship accelerated rapidly during 2020. After reaching 100,00 deliveries in August 2019, it increased to 500,000 by last June and then delivered a further 500,000 items over the following seven months.
The small six-wheeled robots mostly make deliveries of food and drinks on university campuses in the USA and are also in operation in the UK, Germany, Denmark and Estonia.
Robots are hard work
Heinla continued: “Six years ago we wouldn’t have believed we’d be hitting the 1m delivery in January 2021 — we’d have liked to hit it sooner! But it turns out getting delivery robots to operate at a high degree of autonomy in multiple countries, 24/7, doing thousands of deliveries per day and millions of miles per year is hard. Thankfully we have an incredibly talented team at Starship which I thank for making this milestone achievable.
“It may have taken 6 years for us to hit the first million deliveries, but we expect the next million to take only a matter of months!,” he declared.