Robots and drones compete for the delivery system of the future

Since Amazon first talked about its plan to one day deliver packages by drone, the world has been captivated with that vision of the future. But a new company started by two of Skype’s cofounders thinks the real future of small cargo delivery is in autonomous robots.

Founded by Skype cofounders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, Starship Technologies is today unveiling its vision of a delivery robot, a small, six-wheeled device capable of carrying as much as 20 pounds up to a mile or more from a central service hub.

Starship’s value proposition is that its robots can make its deliveries—it is aiming first at the grocery market, but also imagines working with standard packages—at between five and 15 times cheaper than human delivery services. Where the average delivery fee might be between $5 and $15, Starship thinks it can cut that cost to $1 per trip.

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