Technology On the streets of Tallinn against the sky transport robots shopping in their interiors, but there is still a human in the background

The robots, developed by Estonian-based Starship Technologies, have started transporting shopping in the center of Tallinn. Although robots basically travel their routes independently, they still need human help.


Last In the weeks on the pedestrian streets of Tallinn, one may have come across a cute transport robot, an orange pennant bouncing upright to fold the journey at a moderate pace, with shopping bags on board.

The robots are developed by the Estonian-based company Starship Technologies. The design of the robots began in 2014 and is now found in five countries, including the United States and Britain.

In Estonia, the company has recently started cooperating with the Selver and Bloom retail chains. The service operates in the residential areas surrounding the Old Town to the west and south, all the way from Kalamaja to Veerenni. There are more than 20,000 households in the area where the robots operate.

“Selver is happy to be involved in a project that makes innovative life easier for consumers with innovative technology,” Member of Selver’s Board of Directors Kristi Lomp commented in the press release.

Estonian Starship Technologies also develops distribution robots in Finland. A robot riding in the scenery of Hernesaari.

Delivering purchases home with a robot costs 0.99 euros. Currently, the robots are bringing in shopping from three stores, but the number of stores and the size of the area covered by the robots will be increased, the company says in a press release.

At the same time, the company plans to hire at least a hundred new employees in Estonia.

Transport robots and aircraft have been predicted to enter the market for nearly a decade, but no huge breakthrough has yet taken place.

Extensive tests have been carried out, but transport robots have not yet ended up on a large scale for active and everyday use.

For example, the Finnish Wolt tested Starship Technologies’ transport robots for transporting food in Tallinn in 2016. According to Wolt, the company has no plans to introduce the robots or bring them to Finland at the moment.

There are many reasons for the delay in the global conquest of transport robots. Robots have been expensive to make, their safe use requires a quiet and low-traffic area, and transportation is not as fast as riding a bike or car. Robots can also be subjected to pedestrian vandalism.

On airplanes has its own problems. Their operation depends on weather conditions and the aircraft must not be too large or heavy to avoid accidents. In addition, they cannot withstand very heavy loads.

However, the pandemic has raised interest in contactless transportation. The market for transport robots is expected to grow from $ 17.3 billion last year to $ 55 billion by 2026.

In China, for example, more than a thousand new transport robots will be introduced by 2022, news agency Reuters says.

The pandemic has raised interest in contactless transportation.

How then do transport robots work?

Starship Technologies ’robots are autonomous, meaning they should basically be able to navigate familiar routes independently.

The robots have studied the routes of their home corners, first with the maps fed to them, then with test runs made with numerous cameras and sensors. The data collected by the different robots is compiled into a 3D map, and finally, detailed information about the width of the walkways is added to the map.

Completely without human help, they can’t do it. From time to time, robots need to be remotely controlled or even assisted on site.

It is clear from Starship Technologies ’list of vacancies that, for example, several employees are being recruited in the United States under the title of Robotic Customer Experience Associate.

The work environment is similar to a busy restaurant, the ad says, but the co-workers are “innovative robots”. These robot assistants take care of cleaning and loading the robots, assist the robots through the turn, and resolve any problem situations that arise during transportation.

Tasks include real-time remote monitoring of robots and assisting them in unexpected situations, as well as transporting and retrieving robots from their work areas.

The job advertisement states that the employee must visit robots or restaurants either by bike or on foot.

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