By Michael Moore
Robotic delivery men could be coming to a house near you soon, following the launch of a landmark trial in London.
Estonian start-up Starship Technologies has revealed its delivery robots will be heading to the streets of Greenwich in southeast London as part of a six-month trial period that will also see areas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland included.
Following the trial, the company hopes to launch full-scale rollouts of services utilizing its six-wheeled robots later in the year.
Starship Technologies says that it chose the U.K. for its trials because of the government's clear commitment to autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, making the country a world leader in this new and ground-breaking technology.
"Our robots are a totally new class of devices that will provide a combination of low cost and convenience with less congested streets and zero emissions," said Ahti Heinla, CEO, Starship Technologies.
"The robot has been in development for almost two years, and we've experienced unprecedented levels of interest and goodwill—so it's great to now be taking the first step to rolling our little robot out for real. The robot has been very well-received by pedestrians in all of the interactions we've seen so far, so it's very exciting to be officially introducing the robot to the British public."
The company also is planning to launch a trial in the United States next month and plans to unveil the first pilot services in cooperation with its service partners in the U.K. later this year.
The trial is the latest attempt by Greenwich to set itself as a center for next-generation technology. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Britain's first fully autonomous cars will soon begin testing on the streets of the Borough as it hosts the GATEway driverless car project.
"I am delighted that The Royal Borough of Greenwich has been chosen as the first location in the U.K. to trial this revolutionary delivery system, and that Starship Technologies has chosen to base their U.K. offices in Greenwich," said Denise Hyland, leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
"This technology has the potential to transform the local delivery of goods and groceries. The trial complements the work being undertaken by the Royal Borough of Greenwich on smart city innovation work that we believe will be significant for all cities in the future."