Starship Technologies, a player in autonomous delivery services, has raised $90 million in funding for its delivery robots.
The funding marks a big milestone for the company, bringing its total funding to $230 million since its inception in 2014. Starship Technologies will use the fresh capital to bolster global expansion efforts and capitalize on the soaring demand for home deliveries.
The company was founded by CEO Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis in 2014 in Tallinn, Estonia and San Francisco. In his early 40s, Heinla was working in robotics. He spearheaded a proposal for a NASA competition asking for help building an autonomous rough-terrain robot, which could be used to find and retrieve rock samples on Mars.
The design wasn’t selected but the idea remained. Together with Danish entrepreneur Friis, who Heinla knew from his days at Skype, the founders contemplated how robots could be used for carrying out deliveries on Earth instead of Mars.
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CEO Heinla said in a statement, “Now we’re ready to take on the world and with ambitions to build a category-dominating company that can change the daily lives of millions of people in thousands of locations worldwide.”
Back in October 2023, Starship Technologies faced a suspension of its autonomous food delivery service at Oregon State University Corvallis after a bomb scare.
Now the distinctive robots are becoming a common sight on streets across Europe and the United States. With over six million deliveries to date, Starship Technologies said it has changed last-mile delivery, offering an efficient and sustainable solution to the challenges faced by logistics businesses.
Plural and Iconical led the funding round.
Taavet Hinrikus, partner at Plural, said in a statement, “The culmination of this hard work over the past decade and this new funding means Starship is well-positioned for accelerated growth. We’re looking forward to supporting Ahti and the team on this journey to becoming one of Europe’s most successful global companies.”
Starship’s robots are active in 80 locations worldwide, including the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, and Finland. They have delivered a wide range of goods, from groceries to corporate documents, reducing reliance on traditional car journeys and lowering carbon emissions.
Changing last mile delivery
The last-mile delivery, known for its costliness and carbon-intensive impact, has been a persistent challenge for logistics companies. Starship Technologies addresses this hurdle by providing a cost-effective and sustainable delivery solution.
The online food delivery market is expected to more than double by 2030, with last-mile delivery’s carbon emissions in Europe alone projected to reach 5.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2032. Starship’s approach aims to mitigate these challenges.
Each of Starship’s robots, operating autonomously, can run for 18 hours on a full charge, consuming energy equivalent to boiling a kettle for a single cup of tea during an average delivery. The company’s robots have contributed to a reduction of nearly 1.8 million kilograms of carbon dioxide since their launch.
Perfecting autonomous technology
With 99% autonomy, Starship’s robots can navigate challenging terrains and respond safely to various obstacles. The company spent a decade getting its technology right, and it recently introduced wireless charging at George Mason University in the U.S. This feature allows the robots to recharge autonomously and wirelessly between deliveries, enhancing operational efficiency.
The money will enable Starship Technologies to further develop its AI, technology, and wireless charging infrastructure. The company plans to expand to additional international markets, with a particular focus on its delivery-as-a-service (DaaS) product. This product integrates Starship robots into the delivery infrastructure of its partners.
Companies including Bolt, Co-Op, Aramark, Sodexo, Chartwells and Grubhub rely on Starship’s robots to reach customers.
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