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Starship Technologies and Mercedes rethink home delivery

UK-based Starship Technologies, the company behind self-driving delivery robots, has partnered with Mercedes-Benz to rethink the future of home deliveries. The concept combines “mothership” delivery vans with fleets of ground-based drones to make last-mile delivery more efficient.

A retrofitted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van will carry a fleet of eight Starship robots to a central delivery location and unload the robots, which can then complete the last few miles of the journey autonomously, thanks to integrated navigation and obstacle avoidance software.

The system will enable 400 packages to be delivered in a nine-hour shift, compared to 180 packages using current delivery methods, according to Starship Technologies. Mercedes-Benz has created an initial prototype van to test the concept.

Launched in 2014 by two Skype founders, Starship Technologies has previously tested the use of its ground-based drones for grocery delivery. It has recently signed deals with Just Eat, Hermes, Metro Group and to test commercial deliveries in the UK, Germany and Switzerland.

Its aim is to make deliveries both more cost-effective and energy efficient in the age of e-commerce. “Our vision revolves around three zeroes – zero cost, zero waiting time and zero environmental impact. We want to do to local deliveries what Skype did to telecommunications,” said Ahti Heinla, a Skype co-founder and CEO of Starship Technologies.

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