Airborne Delivery Dreams Be Damned, There's Going to be Roller Drones In D.C. 

Come September, an adorable new self-driving robot will be delivering packages in Washington D.C., where strict laws against drones have prevented airborne delivery. 

Starship Technologies

A new era in local delivery will begin in Washington, D.C. this September. The nation’s capital has practically lost all hope when it comes to the concept of drone delivery, making things mighty difficult for customers who have a need for same-date deliveries or dispatches. But now it looks like there’s some hope for the city, and that hope comes in the form of a tiny robot that looks a little bit like a cooler on wheels.

If you’ve been hanging around for a while, you might have seen this particular bot earlier this year. The little rolling drone was created by Starship Technologies, which was created by Skype co-founder, Ahti Heinla, and will make its major debut this fall on the sidewalks of our nation’s capitol. Starship Technologies believes that they’ve created an easy, affordable way to resolve the most recent drone delivery troubles, with most deliveries expected to cost only $1 per trip. The drone is a little less complex than its airborne partners, but that keeps the cost down.

The drone’s approval came in the form of a unanimous vote for a larger budget amendment bill, and it’s loaded with restrictions.: the drones must remain light while unloaded, with weight restrictions capping at 50 lbs (it can carry between 20-25 extra lbs for any delivery); additionally, any drone breakdowns need to be handled and removed within 24 hours. If the restrictions aren’t a problem, the city’s architectural limits might be — and warding off potential package thieves is still something that needs to be figured out. Without navigation provided by human controls, the drones will need to wander the city for a while in order to master their potential delivery routes.

It’s been rumored that the service will run a few field tests before opening up its doors to costumers, but the drone’s public debut in D.C. is expected to kick off on September 15th. It will run through December of next year.

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