A different sort of special delivery

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Autonomous delivery has quickened its pace. Starship Technologies, a robotics startup created by Skype cofounders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis in 2014, recently announced a major commercial rollout of autonomous delivery services for corporate and academic campuses across the U.S. and Europe. The robots provide on-demand delivery via an app and can be stationed in special pods around campuses that also provide automated battery-swapping.

At Intuit’s 4.3-acre Mountain View, Calif., campus, Starship robots take an average of 17 minutes to deliver food, coffee or snacks, allowing users to do things other than stand in line. The idea may seem “new,” but Starship has been at it for some time; robots developed by the company have now covered more than 100,000 miles in 20 countries, encountering more than 15 million people along the way. They drive autonomously, but are monitored by humans that can take over at any time.

PHOTO CREDIT: STARSHIP TECHNOLOGIES

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