Starship Technologies raises $90M for autonomous last-mile delivery expansion

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Estonian delivery robot company Starship Technologies announced today that it has raised $90 million, co-led by Plural and Iconical. 

Launched in 2014, Starship’s delivery robots have become a common sight on streets across Europe and the US, and the company is now the world’s leading autonomous delivery service, making more than six million deliveries and transforming last-mile delivery. 

Found in 80 locations across the world, including the US, UK, Germany, Denmark, Estonia and Finland, the robots use less energy than humans to deliver takeaways, grocery orders, tools and corporate documents to customers’ doors.

The delivery robots have travelled over 11 million miles and completed over six million autonomous deliveries worldwide. Starship was founded by Janus Friis (Skype co-founder) and Ahti Heinla (Skype chief architect), who is also CEO

Last-mile and on-demand delivery, the most costly and carbon-intensive aspect of the supply chain, has been a stumbling block for logistics businesses globally.

In response, Starship has created the most cost-effective, ethical and sustainable way to deliver goods directly to a customer over a short distance, solving the last-mile delivery industry’s major challenges.

Each Starship robot can run for 18 hours fully charged, and the average delivery takes only the same amount of energy as boiling a kettle for a single cup of tea. Since launch, Starship robots have reduced almost 1.8M kg of carbon dioxide.

As well, by using robots, rather than humans on low wages riding through traffic, it has pioneered a more ethical, sustainable business that is used by customers including Bolt, Co-Op, Grubhub and Sodexo.

The robots are 99 percent autonomous and can react safely to difficult situations and obstacles, including snow, rocky terrain and blockages en route, with three crossings made on average every second worldwide.

It took six years for Starship to reach one million deliveries and half that to complete the following five million.

Recently, Starship introduced groundbreaking wireless charging for its robots at George Mason University in the US. In a world’s first, Starship robots can now recharge autonomously and wirelessly between deliveries.

Starship plans to roll out its wireless charging solution globally in the coming months, adding further efficiencies to the last-mile delivery process and fulfilling the vision of creating a fully autonomous system that can easily be deployed at scale.

Over the past ten years, Starship has created a world-class team of engineers, data scientists, designers, and operations specialiststhat, driving the new world of sustainable, autonomous logistics.

Its team members are based at the founding office in Tallinn, Estonia, in its global headquarters, San Francisco, and across the US, UK, Denmark, Finland, and Germany.

Ahti Heinla, Co-founder and CEO at Starship Technologies, said: 

“Autonomous delivery isn’t some science fiction concept from Bladerunner for decades in the future; it’s a reality for hundreds of thousands of people every day.

 Building a company like Starship takes at least a decade of perfecting the technology, streamlining operations and reducing costs to make last-mile autonomous delivery viable and sustainable at scale.

Now we’re ready to take on the world and with ambitions to build a category-dominating company that can change the daily lives of millions of people in thousands of locations worldwide.”

Taavet Hinrikus, Partner at Plural, said: 

“Starship is the global leader in autonomous technology, built in Europe.

For the past ten years, the team has worked tirelessly to build the world’s most advanced autonomous logistics technology, driving more miles and making more deliveries than any other company whilst reducing the impact of last-mile and on-demand delivery on the planet.

The culmination of this hard work over the past decade and this new funding means Starship is well-positioned for accelerated growth.

We look forward to supporting Ahti and the team on this journey to becoming one of Europe’s most successful global companies.”

The new investment round, which brings the total raised by Starship to $230 million, will enable Starship to use continuing advances in AI and machine learning further to develop its AI, tech and wireless charging infrastructure, as it expands to more markets internationally –- particularly with its Delivery as a Service (DaaS) product, which sees Starship robots integrate into the delivery infrastructure of its partners.

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