Starship Technologies, makers of squat, autonomous wheeled delivery robots, announced yesterday that the company has raised $25 million in additional “seed” funding. The round includes follow-on investments from existing backers including Matrix Partners and Morpheus Ventures. This brings the total amount the company has raised to $42.2 million. The company also announced it has brought on Lex Bayer, a former Airbnb exec as Starship’s new CEO.
Starship’s rolling robots can be used to deliver items like packages, restaurant food or groceries within an hour. They are currently in pilot programs in Redwood City, CA and Washington DC, and according to press materials, Starship robots have covered 100,000 miles in 20 countries and 100 cities around the world.
Starship, which also counts Daimler Benz as an investor, said the new money will help scale its business. Earlier this year, the company announced that it would deploy 1,000 delivery robots to corporate and academic campuses across the U.S. and Europe by the end of the year.
The robot delivery space is certainly heating up. In addition to Starship, Marble has its own fleet of delivery robots, and counts DoorDash as a partner. DoorDash may also be working on its own robots as part of its own moonshot initiatives program. Kiwi robots are rolling around UC Berkeley’s campus delivering food. And over in China, Alibaba just unveiled its own driverless delivery robot, the G Plus.
But the biggest hurdle for Starship isn’t the competition, it’s state and local laws. While states like Virginia and Wisconsin have passed laws permitting robot deliveries, San Franciso has tightened restrictions on how they can be used. That’s one reason why Starship’s rollout on campuses is a smart decision. It can work out and improve its technology on private property, sidestepping those municipal hurdles.
If you’re intrigued by robots and want to learn more about how they are impacting the food industry, be sure to check out our podcast, The Automat, which hosts entertaining and informative conversations about tomorrow’s food-related robots and artificial intelligence today.