BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Already driverless, Starship Technologies robots are going airless.
Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Starship Technologies, a Goodyear Ventures portfolio company, is testing a non-pneumatic tire (NPT) for use on the Starship delivery system, a network of more than 1,000 last-mile, autonomous robots that carry and deliver packages and groceries directly to customers.
"We are excited to extend our unique airless tire architectures into new forms of mobility," Michael Rachita, Goodyear's senior program manager for non-pneumatic tires, said.
"The micro-delivery space presents a different set of needs as it relates to the tire, and our NPT technology is ideal to meet those needs to help enable a maintenance-free and long-lasting experience."
The company's six-wheeled robots are electrically powered and autonomous units that complete thousands of deliveries daily across the world, offering contactless delivery. They use a mixture of computer vision and GPS to navigate their route, traveling at no more than 4 mph predominantly on sidewalks.
The airless tire was developed in response to Starship Technologies' push to extend tire life and reduce maintenance activities on the tire, Goodyear said.
Testing will take place at Bowling Green State University. Early results have been positive as they relate to treadwear, braking and vibration dampening, the company said.
"Our delivery robots make thousands of deliveries every day in all types of weather conditions and terrain," Siim Viilup, mechanical engineering manager, Starship Technologies, said.
"To make sure we can keep up with the growing demand for our services, we need tires that are reliable and keep our robots on the move around the clock and around the globe. It's great to see these new tires offering reliability as well as cost savings as we scale our business."
Founded in 2014, Starship Technologies builds and operates a network of self-driving robots that carry and deliver packages, groceries and food directly to customers. The company was founded by Skype Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, co-founders of the Skype video-chat platform.
Goodyear, through its Goodyear Ventures unit, invested an undisclosed amount in Starship Technologies in January 2021.