Two former Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, along with Allan Martinson and Keith Cornell have today conceived a new startup named Starship Technologies.
The Estonia based startup deals with producing small autonomous drones resembling fridges on wheels with blinking LED lights that could just be the future of deliveries. Most drone concepts for deliveries or any application at all have always dealt with flying models. The Skype co-founders think otherwise. They believe that their Starship ‘ground drone’ could address the ‘last mile’ of deliveries.
The company, which currently operates in London, Tallinn and Helsinki, employs 30 employees.
The concept is that after a customer places an order using e-commerce, a Starship drone will be automatically loaded with the required goods (which could range from groceries to drugstore goods to even small packages) inside a ‘portable warehouse’. The warehouse, apparently, will be a converted cargo container that can be placed anywhere convenient. The drone will then do the rendezvous running on the sidewalk with the goods and reaching the required destination for delivery.
Apparently, the drone will be designed to reach up to a top speed of 4 miles an hour and travel a minimum of 2 miles in radius in a single go. The company aims to fulfill deliveries in less than 30 minutes.
A prototype of the drone was showcased which can carry up to 40 pounds. The device uses high resolution maps of the area for navigation and is equipped with a camera and radar help it to assist the maps. It will also be house a speaker and microphone to interact with humans. It will be powered by a low-power electric motor which requires only a quick charge at base.
The drone can also call for human manual help remotely in case it runs into trouble.
According to the company, the customers can track the drone’s progress using an app and then use their smartphones to receive the delivery.
The delivery will also come cheap for the company. It will cost less than a dollar which is 15 times cheaper than a human. It is also more environmentally friendly than gas-driven delivery trucks.
Experimental deliveries are set to start in Greenwich, London and the US next spring, with a full service in 2017.