Brought to you by Retail Insider and Webloyalty

Following the launch of the Digital Retail Innovations 2016 Report (sponsored by Webloyalty) a series of Q&A’s with the leading figures behind some of the key entries in the report are being published.

Here is a Q&A with Henry Harris-Burland, marketing manager, Starship Technologies, which is placed at number 47 in the report.

1.How did the original idea come about?

Starship Technologies was created by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. Ahti entered a robotics competition called the NASA Centennial Competition, where he managed a team that built a robot to go to Mars to pick up rock samples autonomously. After researching different industries that hadn’t been disrupted by technology Ahti and Janus came across the last mile industry. They both realised how inefficient the industry was, and thought they could solve some of the problems using self-driving delivery robots.


2. What has been the level of interest/take-up of the service and what are the key ways retailers are/could-be using it?

The robots are designed to deliver packages, groceries and food. The interest and take up of the technology has been very high since we came out of stealth. We don’t have enough robots and resource to keep up with demand. We’re currently choosing select retailers and cities to trial our robots as a part of a joint testing programme.

3. What about competition in this area?

Since our launch we have seen a number of companies doing similar things to Starship from different countries around the world. However, none of these companies have been testing their robots in the real world, while our robots have travelled over 14,000 miles on sidewalks around the world.

4. How has the solution been developed / advanced over time?

We started testing the robot on real sidewalks in November 2015, and since then the robots have travelled over 14,000 miles in 16 countries and 59 cities around the world. The robots have met over 2.6 million people on their travels. We’re now doing daily robotic deliveries in four cities with companies in the parcel, grocery and food industry.

5. Have there been any surprises along the way?

One of the biggest surprises we’ve encountered is human reaction to our robots. Out of all the people that have met the robots, 75-80% of them ignore the robot. Our robots have blended into daily life a lot easier than we originally expected.

6. What can we expect from Starship Technologies in the future?

We’re planning on expanding our joint testing programme into more cities and countries in the aim to have thousands of robots doing millions of deliveries all over the world in the future!

7. Do you have any recommendations for entries in the next Digital Retail Innovations report?

Savioke the hotel delivery robot.


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