Tech company hiring human handlers for robot delivery service… Apt building offers ‘robot’ amenity

Love robots? This tech company is hiring human handlers for their robot delivery service

Turns out even driverless robots need friends.

Starship Technologies is recruiting humans in preparation for the D.C. launch of its robot delivery service.

The Estonia-based company wants to hire “robot handlers” to accompany robots as they make drop-offs around the city.  “Handlers” will look after the robots, answer questions about how they operate and intervene should anything go awry.

Say for example, the robot can’t complete the delivery, its human handler will step in to make sure the item gets to its destination, company spokesman Henry Harris-Burland said.

The D.C. Council voted in June to give the company permission to begin its delivery-by-robot service, but a lengthy permitting process has delayed its launch. Officials hope to begin service sometime in the next few months. The robots however, have been spotted around various D.C. neighborhoods. Harris-Burland said they are “mapping” neighborhoods in preparation for their debut. The service also will launch soon on the West Coast in Redwood City, Calif. — just south of San Francisco.

It’s not clear what type of items the robots will be delivering. Harris-Burland said that the company is still negotiating with local companies.

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Jasper is a 40-story luxury high-rise steps away from the San Francisco offices of start-ups like Dropbox, Lyft and Silicon Valley shuttle stops ferrying workers to companies like Google and Facebook.

It seems to embody all that the city’s long-standing residents hate, and aims to offer everything its young tech and finance workers might crave. The building looks and feels like a luxury hotel during a perpetual spring break.

“The new jobs are all tech and finance and so we get a lot of those types of residents,” said Roman Speron, vice president at developer and owner Crescent Heights.


An autonomous robot designed by Savioke will join the staff in the future, said Speron. Residents will be able to order items — like desert, champagne, toothpaste or toiletries — using an in-app menu. Staff place the requested item in the robot which will call the elevator, arrive at an apartment door, call the person inside and flip open its top to deliver the item, said Speron. (The robot is already being used in some hotels.)

“We have had parties where the robots delivered water to our guests and it’s pretty funny and outrageous and people are amazed,” he said.


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