Transport robots take small purchases to Espoo, but in the eyes of Starship there is a bigger revolution that would reduce the number of cars on the streets

Smalla six – wheeled robot is quilting next to Otaniemi shopping center, waving a red pennant.

The robot stops and the application notifies you that it has arrived. The door opens with the phone. The robot begins to cannon the swinger Nicki Minajin Starshiphits while shopping is picked up from its bites.

The door closes and the robot wishes you a “nice day”. It then exits the pennant bouncing vigorously.

Estonian-speaking The transport robots developed by Starship Technologies began transporting six Alepa stores in Espoo in mid-April. Since then, they have generated a lot of interest in social media.

In the past, time in Finland has not been ripe for transport robots, although some of their development work has been done in Helsinki’s Hernesaari for four years, says Starship Technologies’ Product Director. Phillip Lindberg.

Now it seems that the moment for robots has arrived.

Phillip Lindberg, Product Director at Starship Technologies, ordered the purchase with his company’s transportation robot. The company has raised more than $ 100 million in investments during the first half of the year. In January, the European Investment Bank decided to invest EUR 50 million in the company.

That’s because food e-commerce and home delivery have been booming. Optimizing the use of time and streamlining everyday life is also trendy.

Underlying Starship’s business idea is an observation of people’s shopping behavior: by far the most common reason to shop is to make replenishment purchases.

Coffee lacks milk, oatmeal from morning porridge or party chips. Even the best planners of weekly shopping sometimes forget something. That little bang can be a significant notch in the day’s schedule if there’s a mile or a couple of trips to the convenience store. In Espoo, the robot’s average transport distance is 1.2 kilometers.

“We haven’t created a new pattern of behavior, we’re making existing behavior easier,” Lindberg says.

Read more: Artificial intelligence flopped at the helm of cars. However, similar technology is becoming more common, but on sidewalks.

Before as robots become more common on the streets, they must be accepted by humans and neighborhoods.

The autonomous robot cooling down on the street sounds like the plot of the Aku Duck story, or at worst a dystopic sci-fi Novell.

That’s why it’s been important for Starship to develop a robot that looks cute, friendly, and humble. No one should be afraid of the robot and they should not cause dangerous situations. In addition, humans should intuitively figure out what the robot is really up to.

“It’s our job to make the robot look like it wants to cross the road, even if the motorist has never seen one before,” Lindberg says.

In order to create the impression, in addition to the appearance and color of the robot, numerous small human behaviors have been programmed into it, such as dodging an opponent on a narrow street or waiting at the end of a shelter.

With small gestures, the robot can show other people in traffic that it is paying attention to them and giving them space.

“Robots are not our peers, they are here to serve us. The robot always dodges, ”says Lindberg.


Siina Siponen, Alepa's store manager, says that the robots have not taken jobs away from humans. On the contrary, additional labor is almost required to pack customer orders.


Siina Siponen, Alepa’s store manager, says that the robots have not taken jobs away from humans. On the contrary, additional labor is almost required to pack customer orders.

Alepan store manager Siina Siponen says there has been a demand for the service. More shipments have been made than initially estimated in the store.

In part, it’s also about the people of Espoo wanting to test the weird service and invite the robot to visit. The feedback has been largely positive.

“Robots have won the hearts of many. I myself am happy every time I come to load them, ”says Siponen.

HOK-Elanto’s food online store development manager Jukka Ranua says that the cooperative has not yet made decisions to expand the service to other stores.

“We want to see what the demand really is like. It is still too early to line up, ”says Ranua.

Different customers have different needs. Most of the cooperative’s online purchases are larger weekly purchases, which are ordered from Prisma either by pick-up or home delivery, Ranua says. Starship’s service, on the other hand, is suitable for fast, small purchases.

“We are sensitive to what customers think. We offer what customers want to use. ”

Bridge currently robots are moving In addition to Finland, Estonia, the United States, Great Britain, Denmark and Germany. In the United States, about 50 to 60 robots carry more than 1,000 orders a day on campus, Lindberg says.

The company is headquartered in San Francisco, and programming and development work is mainly performed in Tallinn and Helsinki. The business is profitable, Lindberg says, and the company employs more than a thousand people. The Finnish branch has made a profit since 2018.

Robots fit almost anywhere where enough people live at a suitable distance from services, Lindberg says. Tokyo’s Shibuya and London’s Piccadilly Circus are too congested and tight. In the Finnish countryside, on the other hand, a robot that travels six kilometers an hour would be too slow to cover long distances.

Pedestrians are surprisingly willing to help robots of their own free will.

Robots also provoke criticism. The robots retreat to spend their resting time in a so-called resting area. Defining rest areas is an ongoing discussion with community residents to keep them out of the way, Lindberg says. Discussions are also taking place with the authorities.

Robots are also suspected of further laziness with humans. Lindberg notes that the time released by robots can be used for whatever you want, even for jogging or chatting with children.

No. everything in Espoo still goes like in Strömsö. The robots are stuck on construction sites or at the end of a shelter road when no one has pressed a piece of traffic lights on behalf of the robot.

The robots take about four to six weeks to calibrate the routes in their immediate area so that the majority of the trips go smoothly, Lindberg says.

If the robot gets into a climb, there is an on-call attendant in the area who can remotely control it or go to lift the robot pair back on its wheels.

Often it is not even needed, Lindberg says. Pedestrians are surprisingly willing to help robots of their own free will.

“It is our hope that humans will experience these robots as their own.”

Starshipin the broader vision extends beyond grocery shopping. Robots are meant to solve the so-called “last mile” problem.

The last kilometer refers to the last section of the transport of goods from the distributor to the consumer, ie from the shop to the home, for example. It is the most expensive and time consuming part of transportation.

There is a huge amount of stuff moving in our residential areas with inefficient efficiency, Lindberg says. We buy goods online, return them, take the bottles for recycling, drag the shopping bags home from the store, sell used goods online, and lend a drill to a friend.

Often transportation is done by car. Gasoline is burning and time is running out. It could be otherwise. Starship’s big goal is to reduce unnecessary short-distance driving and save valuable time, Lindberg says.

“A lot of the things we carry from place to place would fit in a robot,” Lindberg says.

“How easy it would be, for example, to collect household electronic waste, such as old chargers and phones, in a bag and send them on a robot ride to a recycling point!”

At worst the growing demand for ever-faster transportation is consuming the planet’s resources and creating structures that exploit workers, Lindberg says.

Robots, on the other hand, are almost emission-free. They even work around the clock and still do it cost-effectively. One robot is roughly as valuable as a high-end gaming computer, Lindberg reveals.

A robot is already cheaper than a human. It transports shopping in Espoo for 99 cents. There will be a handling fee of five percent of the total purchase price. Of the ten euros of purchases, transportation accounted for one and a half euros.

“The price of human labor is rising due to, among other things, rising costs, tightening regulations and inflation. The price of robot transport, on the other hand, is only expected to fall, ”says Lindberg.

Battery-powered robots run on electricity. According to Lindberg, one transport consumes about two cups of energy.

Starship Technologies raised more than $ 100 million


In the application, you can check the correct location of the delivery address from the satellite image.


In the application, you can check the correct location of the delivery address from the satellite image.

  • Alepa has 60 transport robots in use. One robot weighs about 35 pounds. The robot is powered by electricity and monitors the environment with 12 cameras.

  • The robot can hold two to three bags of food. There is always one order in one robot. The robot box is locked. The customer gets the box open with the app.

  • Starship Technologies, which developed the robot, is an Estonian-based company founded in 2014. Its transport robots have previously delivered food and parcel orders to the United States, Britain, Denmark, Germany and Estonia, among others.

  • Starship Technologies raised more than $ 100 million in funding early in the year. Among other things, the European Investment Bank financed the company with EUR 50 million.

By Editor

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