London-listed Just Eat Plc. will join German retail chain Metro AG, logistics company Hermes Group, and U.K. food delivery startup Pronto Technology Ltd., in trialing delivery using self-driving robots, according to Bloomberg. Starship Technologies, the company that makes the droids, said that Just Eat and Pronto will be using the robots in London, while Metro and Hermes will deploy them in Dusseldorf, Germany, and Bern, Switzerland, as well as another undisclosed German city.
Created by two Skype co-founders, Starship, which is headquartered in London and has its engineering research and development office in Tallinn, Estonia, has been testing its robots in 12 countries over the past nine months. This will be the first time businesses will be using the technology to deliver real orders to paying customers.
Allan Martinson, Starship’s chief operating officer, said in a telephone interview that each business’s trial will involve a fleet of between five to 10 robots in one or two areas of each city. He said Starship would likely announce further customers, including some in the U.S., within months.
The little robots, which are designed to operate on sidewalks rather than roads, make deliveries within a two- to three-mile radius. They can carry loads weighing as much as 20 pounds, at speeds of up to four miles per hour. Starship will operate the robots on behalf of the first customers, monitoring their progress remotely and standing by to drive the vehicles remotely if they encounter situations they can’t handle in autonomous driving mode. During test driving, the robots have encountered more than 400,000 people without having a single accident, the company said.
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