iOS Apps Postmates and DoorDash Testing Automated Delivery Via Self-Driving Robots

by

Popular delivery apps Postmates and DoorDash have announced a partnership with automated robot startup Starship Technologies, which will see a fleet of self-driving robots make courier deliveries for Postmates in Washington D.C., and food deliveries for DoorDash in Redwood City, California (via TechCrunch).

The robots built by Starship are designed to travel among people walking on the sidewalk and can achieve a max speed of 4 mph while carrying up to 40 lbs, all within a delivery radius of 2 miles. The personal couriers are powered by rechargeable lithium ion batteries to ensure that they are quiet when running. Although "they primarily rely on computer vision and street map data to navigate," the robots aren't entirely self-operating as they require a human overseer to manage the fleet through an app.

starship-robots

Images via @StarshipRobots

Postmates and DoorDash aren't the first clients of Starship, with overseas companies like Just Eat, Hermes Parcel Delivery, Media Markt, Swiss Post and Wolt previously supporting the robotic fleet of personal couriers. In total, Starship says at least 1.7 million people in 16 countries and 56 cities have been in contact with one of its robots.

DoorDash co-founder Stanley Tang made sure to state that the addition of Starship's technology doesn't mean the company is seeking to completely replace its human workers. Instead, Tang has a vision to use the robots as a way for its human workers to avoid small deliveries, and subsequently small tips, because the app tips workers based on the total cost of the order they deliver. His ultimate goal is to "use robots to alleviate “dashers” of the deliveries they don’t want to do anyway."

According to DoorDash co-founder Stanley Tang, testing out robotic “dashers,” doesn’t mean the company will attempt to replace human workers any time soon, or ever. He said, “We have people who use cars, bikes, scooters, motorcycles or walk to make a delivery. And each has a different strength and suitability for different deliveries. Robots will be another type of vehicle in our system.”

With DoorDash, Starship is expected to be integrated into the app from as early as the ordering stage: users will have to choose to have their order delivered by a robot instead of a human, and then they will receive a text message when the courier arrives at the door. Thanks to Starship's security measures, the robot's compartment will be calibrated to be opened through a link in the text message that the user receives, so no one else can take their food order.

starship-robots-2
Postmates is said to be preparing a similar system as DoorDash, with Senior Vice President Holger Luedorf saying, “we don’t have a grand vision that robots would be the ultimate delivery mechanism or something. It’s far too early to say. We do want to gather a lot of data.”

Automation in technology has been surging as a popular topic in recent years, from Amazon's successful first drone delivery with Prime Air last month to Apple's confirmation of its interest in a self-driving vehicle system. Companies like Uber and Google have expressed interest in self-driving cars as well, but recently began scaling back their ambitions due to trouble with automotive legislation.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
46 months ago
Those look ridiculously easy to steal.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago
I use both these services, can't wait for the day a robot shows up at my door :)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago

Those look ridiculously easy to steal.

Apparently they can spray a thief with special spray that turns them into a good person. ;)
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago
One step closer to a massive layoff of delivery workers.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago

Those look ridiculously easy to steal.

LOL, agreed. not much worth within BUT it would surely cost the company a LOT more than an employee: robot insurance spike if a numerous amount is stolen. Implementing tracking and camera's would also increase per unit cost.

Sweet I love getting cold food. Postmates and food services are already bad if you live in an apartment where the driver gets lost 80% of the time and your food arrives cold

Yeah I get teh same raw deal with Taxi delivery here in Toronto. 3 buildings, only 3 on my street right next to one another and the drivers cannot figure out which address belongs to which at the side of the road. Moreover they don't bother reading the building number painted on the main front building entrance door with 75 Size font. lol.

One step closer to a massive layoff of delivery workers.

Based on the potentials and caveats above I think this would only serve to bolster employment and sustainability of delivery workers.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago
Sweet I love getting cold food. Postmates and food services are already bad if you live in an apartment where the driver gets lost 80% of the time and your food arrives cold
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...

Apple May Launch This Year's 'iPhone 12' Lineup in Two Stages, With 6.1-inch Models Debuting First

Monday August 3, 2020 3:14 am PDT by
Apple last week confirmed that its "‌iPhone‌ 12" launch will be delayed this year due to the ongoing global health crisis and restrictions on travel. Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later," suggesting a release sometime in October. We're expecting a total of four OLED iPhones in 5.4, 6.1, and...

Apple-Acquired Dark Sky Officially Shuts Down Android App

Saturday August 1, 2020 3:43 pm PDT by
Apple in March purchased weather app Dark Sky, and at that time, Dark Sky's developers said that the app's Android version would be discontinued on July 1, 2020. However, instead of shuttering the app on that date, the app's developers announced that the discontinuation would be delayed for another month. Now that it's August, Android users are no longer able to access the app, and...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 4: Apple TV Widget, Search Improvements, Exposure Notification API and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 11:14 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth developer betas of iOS and iPadOS 14 for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features and design changes included in the update. Changes get smaller and less notable as the beta testing period goes on, but there are still some noteworthy new features in the fourth beta, which we've highlighted below. - Apple TV widget - There's a new Apple TV...

Apple Explains Why You Might See 'Not Charging' When a Mac is Plugged In

Monday August 3, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
If you have a Mac and have seen a "Not Charging" warning when plugging it in to power, Apple last week released a support document that explains why. Macs running macOS 10.15.5 or later have a Battery Health Management feature to preserve the life of the battery, and occasionally, the Battery Health Management option will cause the Mac to pause its charging for calibration purposes.Depending ...

Unreleased iPod Touch with Mac Pro Glossy Black Finish Shared Online

Sunday August 2, 2020 11:32 am PDT by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today posted images of what seems to be a first-generation iPod Touch prototype with a 2013 Mac Pro-style glossy black finish. The Twitter user claims that the iPod Touch prototype pictured has "the same coating as the 2013 Mac Pro." Had the finish been selected for the final product, it also would have been similar to the metallic glossy black finish that...

Phil Schiller Moving on to Become 'Apple Fellow,' Greg Joswiak Taking Over as Marketing SVP

Tuesday August 4, 2020 10:07 am PDT by
Apple's Phil Schiller is moving on to become an "Apple Fellow," Apple announced today, while Greg Joswiak will take over as Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. Schiller will continue to lead the App Store and Apple Events, but will no longer be in charge of marketing. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he is "thrilled" that Joswiak will be leading the marketing team, and that his...

Microsoft to Stop Supporting Office 2016 for Mac in October

Monday August 3, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Microsoft's Office 2016 for Mac is set to reach its end of support date on October 13, 2020, and after that date, connecting to Office 365 services using the Office 2016 for Mac software will no longer be supported. Microsoft shared the detail in a support document from July highlighting which versions of Office will be supported for connecting to Office 365 services in the future.Connecting ...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Apple Shares Requirements for Default Third-Party Browser and Email Apps With Developers

Monday August 3, 2020 4:28 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 plans to allow users to set a third-party app as the default email or browser app on an iPhone or iPad, replacing the current Apple-made default apps Safari and Mail. Apple hasn't provided many details on the new feature to users, but as noted by MacStories' Federico Vittici, Apple has shared documentation with developers who want their apps to have the option to be set as a...