SAN FRANCISCO – Starship Technologies, which develops autonomous delivery robots, today announced it raised $40 million in Series A funding. The company, which uses mobile robots for campus delivery of food and grocery items, announced plans to expand to 100 universities over the next two years.
The funding round was led by Morpheus Ventures, with participation from prior investors, including Shasta Ventures, Matrix Partners, MetaPlanet Holdings, as well as new investors including TDK Ventures, Qu Ventures, and others. With its latest funding, Starship has now raised a total of $85 million.
The company also said it is the first autonomous delivery company to hit 100,000 deliveries, traveling more than 350,000 miles, and crossed four million streets.
Pittsburgh, Purdue next up
On the university campus front, the company announced that its delivery robots have arrived at the University of Pittsburgh, and Purdue University will launch its service on Sept. 9. In Pittsburgh, national and local retailers include Einstein Bros. Bagels, Common Grounds, and Roc ‘N Roll’d Sushi. The company said the student meal plan will be accepted as payment.
Customers can download an app via iOS or Android, and choose from a range of food or drink items, then drop a pin where they want deliveries to be sent. The app lets the customer watch as the robot makes its journey via interactive map. Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert, and then meet and unlock the robot through the app. Delivery fees vary by locations, but are typically $1.99 or less. The company deployed its services at George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.) and Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Ariz.) earlier this year. Starship said both campuses have increased the number of robots, dining options and hours of operation to meet the demand for this service.
“This new investment will see Starship expand onto more campuses as we head towards a goal of offering our service to over one million students,” said Lex Bayer, CEO of Starship Technologies. “An entire generation of university students are growing up in a world where they expect to receive a delivery from a robot after a few taps on their smartphone. The reception to our service both on campuses and in neighborhoods has been phenomenal. Our customers appreciate how we make their lives easier and give them back the gift of time.”
The company announced that between its campus and neighborhood delivery of restaurant food and grocery items, that it has delivered more than 6,000 pizzas, 7,000 gallons of milk, 8,000 coffees, 9,000 sushi rolls, 15,000 bananas, and more than 3,700 diapers.
Starship said the robots use a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to travel on sidewalks and navigate around obstacles. They can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in rain and snow, the company said. The company said it has also played a role in helping to bring legislation allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks across nine U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and several countries.
“We’ve evaluated the autonomous tech market segment around the world, and Starship is miles ahead of others in bringing advanced technology valued by real paying customers,” said Nicholas Sauvage, managing director of TDK Ventures. “Starship’s machine learning, computer vision, and sensor fusion is the most advanced we’ve seen in autonomous robotic delivery. We look forward to contributing to the success of Starship in this important and emerging space.”