Ground Drones Will Beat Air Drones

Betting on Starship Technologies' ground game against Amazon.com's aerial enterprise.



Skype co-founders are launching a drone delivery service in the U.K. called Starship Technologies soon. The drones are essentially cute six-wheeled robot grocery carts and can carry around 20 pounds of stuff. The semi-autonomous drones are wirelessly monitored by humans to resolve any navigation issues and to prevent attempts at interference or theft. The drones travel at 4 mph overland and would be positioned in urban areas to deliver packages within 5 to 30 minutes of being summoned.

The drones are locked and can only be opened by recipients who have the proper app on their phones. The app also allows customers to track the drones. The company claims that the drones will be 10 to 15 times cheaper than current cost of last mile delivery services, e.g., couriers.

Amazon has kindled a lot of excitement with its proposal for Air Prime delivery services using 55 pound unmanned aerial drones that can fly no higher than 400 feet and carry packages weighing under 5 pounds. It too promises deliveries within 30 minutes. "One day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road," predicts the company. Perhaps.


At least for the time being, ground drones likely to be much more useful since they will use less energy and can carry considerably more. They will also avoid the much of the regulatory hell that aerial drone delivery companies will have to navigate.

But ultimately, who needs deliveries when folks can print-out what they want at home?