Robot Delivery Pilot Program Officially Launched in Redwood City

Have you seen the robots around town and wondered what they are carrying and why? Late last year, the City Council approved a pilot program to allow the use of autonomous robots, also known as Personal Delivery Devices (PDD) in the City of Redwood City. This innovative service is available now and could potentially grow to over 20 robots over time.

Starship Technologies, a London-based company created and launched this service being used in many cities in the United Kingdom and Germany. Starship Technologies chose Redwood City as one of its first United States launch locations due to the area’s acceptance of new technologies, its bustling downtown, and the high rate of use of delivery services such as Postmates and Door Dash. Starship has two offices in the U.S., one in Redwood City and one in Washington D.C.

“We’re excited that Starship Technologies chose Redwood City for this innovative autonomous robot program,” said Mayor John Seybert. “This has strong potential to reduce traffic in Redwood City and allow for some restaurants and businesses to serve a greater number of customers.”

What are these robots?

Starship Technologies, Inc robots navigate City sidewalks and streets, delivering goods such as restaurant items and groceries to residents and businesses. The robots are used every day for six hours. This is expected to grow over time. The PDD can carry approximately three grocery bags worth of goods and weighs about 50 pounds when fully loaded. It uses nine on-board cameras to assist in its travels along the sidewalks and goes no more than four miles per hour. At street crossings, it is assisted by a human controller to ensure it is safe for the robot to cross the street and not impede traffic.

Customers can establish their delivery times, track their items while in transit on the mobile application at all times, and securely retrieve their items with their unique code that opens the robot. This code, the nine cameras, and the human controller overseeing the robots journey are ways to keep your items safe before arriving at your door.

How could these robots benefit Redwood City?

By having autonomous robot PDDs making deliveries, this will make for fewer short distance driving trips typically made by delivery drivers. This has a strong potential to reduce traffic in Redwood City.

Businesses could see more success as well. More customers could potentially be attracted to ordering goods from a business that offers this form of delivery service and as a result businesses could see higher sales and profits.

The robots will not replace human personnel. Delivery vans are still the most efficient method of delivery over the first 10 miles. Robots are most efficient within two miles of the delivery. Starship says they have created at least 10 jobs in Redwood City so far and are growing.

For more information read the City staff report here or visit Starship Technologies website here.

Visual credits to Starship Technologies.