Delivery robot company Starship announced today that it has raised an additional $17 million in funding. Investors include TDK Ventures and Goodyear Ventures, and this brings the total amount raised by Starship to $102 million.
As part of today’s announcement, Starship also said that it has now completed 1 million autonomous deliveries, and that its service will be rolling out to the campuses of UCLA and Bridgewater State University (Massachusetts).
Starship makes self-driving, cooler-sized, six-wheeled delivery robots that carry food, groceries and more. Starship started rolling out its robot delivery service to U.S. college campuses starting with George Mason university back in January of 2019. Since then, the company has added a steady stream of colleges to its ranks across the country over the ensuing years, and has started making grocery deliveries in Modesto, CA.
The COVID-19 pandemic has helped generate interest in delivery robots because of their contactless nature. You don’t have as much human-to-human interaction when the delivery agent is a robot. Robots can also operate all day (even taking the crummy shifts without complaining), and potentially bring down the cost of delivery, making it more affordable for more people.
The delivery robot space is heating up and there are a number of players getting into or scaling up their operations around the world. In the U.S., Kiwibot is operating in San Jose and, coincidentally, it announced earlier this month that it would be expanding to Los Angeles (where Postmates’ Serve robot already works). Yandex is operating food delivery bots in Moscow. Woowa Brothers is making deliveries in Seoul, South Korea. And a newcomer called Ottonomy is just starting to bring its robots to market here in the U.S.
The delivery robots aren’t coming, they are already here.