Autonomous delivery bot company Starship Technologies raises $40 Million in Series A funding
Company says that it is expanding delivery into 100 university campuses on the back of completing 100,000 autonomous deliveries
Starship Technologies, which makes small, autonomous robots for commercial deliveries, has raised $40M in Series A funding adding to $45 million already raised from investors.
The company plans to use a large part of this on expanding its delivery service into 100 university campuses in the next 24 months. Starship is working with the University of Pittsburgh and Sodexo in anticipation of a launch in Autumn, whilst Purdue University, Indiana is launching on September 9, with more following shortly.
The round was led by Morpheus Ventures 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.
The company says that its robots have travelled more than 350,000 miles across 100,000 autonomous deliveries. Primarily this has been through deliveries of groceries in urban, corporate campus and university environments and to restaurants. In a press release the company listed completed deliveries of 6,000 pizzas, 7,000 gallons of milk, 8,000 coffees, 9,000 sushi rolls, 15,000 bananas as well as over 3,700 diapers.
The battery-powered robots use a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to travel on sidewalks and navigate around obstacles. Starship says its robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow.
Starship rolled out robot delivery to university campuses this year in partnership with foodservice management company Sodexo, Inc, starting with George Mason University (Fairfax, VA), where it launched with what was then the world’s largest robotic delivery fleet, and later to Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ). 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.
The Starship Deliveries app is available for download on iOS and Android. To get started, users choose from a range of their favourite 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.
“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.”
“This new investment will see Starship expand onto more campuses as we head towards a goal of offering our service to over one million students,” said 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 neighbourhoods has been phenomenal. Our customers appreciate how we make their lives easier and give them back the gift of time.”