Estonia to test Starship “mothership concept”

Omniva, the Estonian postal operator, has announced it is to trial the Starship ‘mothership concept’ where Mercedes-Benz vans bring a number of Starship delivery robots to an area and they deliver the goods the final mile autonomously.

The pilot is to take place this summer in the Kakumäe suburban region of Tallinn.

“We are excited and honoured to have the opportunity to be the first testers of this ‘robotic delivery solution,” said Omniva’s CEO Joona Saluveer. “The pilot will give us essential knowledge and feedback on the possibility of such innovations in our last-mile delivery process.”

Apex Insight reported how Mercedes Benz and Starship first mooted the mothership concept last September. A specially converted Mercedes van acts as a mobile loading and transport hub for eight Starships. The concept has also been suggested as working with flying delivery drones.

Commenting on the Tallinn trials, Stefan Maurer, Head of Future Transportation at Mercedes-Benz Vans, said:  “We are very pleased to have found an innovative and agile partner in Omniva, with which we will take another major step towards the implementation of our system. The conditions here in Estonia are optimal and we are sure that the experience gained from this test will help us to make rapid progress on the road to Robotic Delivery Solutions,.”

“This is an important step forward for the future of parcel delivery,” said Ahti Heinla, CEO Starship Technologies. “Our first tests with Omniva and Daimler will be invaluable for the future of this new technology.”

In June this year, the Estonia Parliament adopted legislation permitting delivery robots such as the Starship to operate on pedestrian footpaths. In the parliament, it was said that last mile delivery accounts for between 20% to 40% of the delivery cost and therefore can save money in the supply chain.

“I am very pleased that Estonia can present another technological innovation at the beginning of our presidency of the EU. It is a pilot in its early stages, of course, but all great things have started from little tests,” said Urve Palo, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology. “E-commerce is growing quickly and in order to keep up, we must think of development in all aspects – from creating a consumer-friendly cross-border framework to the last-mile delivery technology.”

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