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Starship Says Delivery Robots Are Ready for Primetime21/12/2022
Starship Says Delivery Robots Are Ready for Primetime Starship Technologies’ Chief Commercial Officer Ryan Tuohy says it’s finally time for delivery robots to go mainstream at significant scale. With more than four million autonomous deliveries completed, he says this is the inflection point where “it’s no longer a science program, it’s no longer research and development [and] it’s no longer a pilot to show that you can do something.”To get more news about Robots on Demand, you can visit official website.
In an industry that’s been told for years that deliveries by ground-based bots and aerial drones are just around the corner, Tuohy says “we are in a massively different place of adoption” compared to when he joined the company from OpenTable just five years ago. Referencing an episode of Guy Raz’s “How I Built This” podcast, he said this moment resembles the plant-based meat industry a few years back where the product finally improved to a point where some meat lovers preferred Impossible and Beyond to the real thing.
“That’s such an insight into when you actually have product-market fit to a disruptive scale,” Tuohy added. “It’s not like we’re willing to use you. No, we’d rather use you, and we’re going to put you in places where you can’t do this otherwise without you—that’s actually where we are now.”
Compared to other automated delivery providers that are investing heavily to build their own marketplaces, Starship is focused on plugging into existing delivery apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats rather than competing with them.
He added that the increasingly compelling economics of Starship’s devices mean the largest U.S. delivery providers are now signing contracts to bring large fleets of delivery robots to the streets and sidewalks of the American market.
“Let’s be honest, it’s about money,” Tuohy said. “It used to be that it cost us so much to do it that we couldn’t bid them competitively or, if we bid them competitively, we lost so much money on every delivery that we didn’t have enough capital to scale. That doesn’t work, we’re not there anymore, so we are writing big-number contracts.”
Reaching a critical mass As a global enterprise with full-time employees around the world, San Francisco-based Starship operates in a variety of countries where the physical and regulatory landscapes are far different than its home country. Rather than replacing contracted drivers en masse, Starship sees future delivery solutions as multimodal, where robots are one part of the logistics package—but not operating in geographies and occasions where cars, bikes or delivery associates on foot will remain the most efficient option.
In October, Grubhub announced a partnership with Starship to bring delivery robots to five additional college campuses, joining a list of more than 25 U.S. campuses where its robots are already providing deliveries—with many more campus announcements to come. That latest deal came eight months after Starship raised $100 million to expand and accelerate its growth within the autonomous delivery space.
“I’m super excited about the Grubhub integration, because it has always been part of the plan for us to be a logistics modality in multimodal delivery ecosystems,” he said. “We built the Starship consumer application as a way to get to market quicker, not as a long-term strategic requirement for the company.”
While autonomous partnerships in campus environments have garnered a regular drumbeat of industry headlines, Tuohy stresses that the real, larger opportunity is in cities—but possibly in what he called a “donut” beginning just outside central business districts. “The U.S. campus ecosystem is just something we saw that’s really unique to the U.S.,” he added. “You don’t see these types of residential-academic environments with closed-food ecosystems outside of the U.S., so for us it was a really natural place as a first mover that we wanted to make sure we had established ourselves.”
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