Starship Technologies, the autonomous robot delivery start-up led by one of the early developers of Skype, has raised $90 million in a new funding round.
The Estonian start-up, founded in 2014, builds small autonomous robots that carry food, groceries and consumer goods in cities.
The round of funding was led by Plural and Iconical and the new money is intended to ramp up its operations in the US, UK and the rest of Europe.
According to the company, its robots are active in 80 locations including in the US, UK, Germany, Denmark, Estonia and Finland and have carried out more than six million deliveries since it was founded 10 years ago.
The company said its robots use less energy than traditional delivery channels, aiming to address issues with on-demand and last mile delivery that are carbon intensive and costly stages of the supply chain.
Ahti Heinla, chief executive of Starship Technologies, said that his company’s robots have been gradually developed and iterated over the last 10 years to reach a point now where expansion is viable.
“Building a company like Starship takes a least a decade of perfecting the technology, streamlining operations and reducing costs to make last-mile autonomous delivery viable and sustainable at scale.”
Heinla said that now the company is ready to ramp up. It is preparing to make deeper investments into AI, the core technology under the hood that makes autonomous delivery robots work, and wireless charging infrastructure to keep robots on the streets for longer. The latter includes a recent deployment at George Mason University, near Washington DC.
Ultimately the company is planning to launch commercially in more markets internationally with its Delivery as a Service (DaaS) product. The DaaS service is integrated with some of Starship’s partners, such as Estonian ride-hailing and delivery player Bolt and US counterpart GrubHub.
Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of fintech giant Wise and now partner at venture capital firm Plural, said that Starship had built the “most advanced autonomous logistics technology in the world” that is helping to reduce the carbon footprint of last mile delivery.
“The culmination of this hard work over the past decade and this new funding means Starship is well-positioned for accelerated growth,” he said.
Starship’s total funding to date now stands at $230 million. Its other backers include Nordic Ninja, TDK Ventures and tire maker Goodyear.