Starship Technologies Delivers an Easier Lifestyle for Oaklanders

by Lynn Dang

Over 8,000 coffees, 10,000 sushi rolls, 14,000 sandwiches, and 5,500 burritos.

All delivered by robot – untouched by humans. San Francisco startup Starship Technologies has made the world’s first delivery robot. And the company’s next stop is the University of Pittsburgh. Designed to improve the everyday life of users, Starship’s mission is to “give time back to people,” said VP of Marketing Henry Harris-Burland, “Whether you’ve had a long night and want breakfast delivered or you’re up late studying and need some refreshments, our delivery robots are here to help.”

Founded in 2014, Starship Technologies spent the first half of life on testing and perfecting the robots’ autonomous capabilities. To ensure understanding in different environments, terrians, and weather, testing was done in over 20 countries. In April 2018, the company turned into a full blown commercial delivery service. Today, it operates 24/7 across the United States, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Germany. The easy action of downloading the “Starship – Deliveries” app on iOS or Android enables people all over the world to use these autonomous delivery robots.

Starship plans to bring their pioneering robots to 100 campuses within the next 24 months. From the app, users can access a variety of local merchants to order food and beverages, drop a pin on a map, and track the robot’s progress as it drives to them. The robot’s sensors and detection system allows it to adjust speed and direction as needed. With the ability to travel at night, through rain and snow, across streets, and over curbs, users can order from a variety of locations.

Starship’s expansion to the University of Pittsburgh was made possible through a partnership with Sodexo. Recently, Starship completely mapped Pitt’s campus to ensure that the robots could move autonomously. Students, faculty, and staff can now access Oakland’s businesses in the app and place an order for the low delivery fee of $1.99.

As one of the first campuses that Starship Deliveries is serving, Pitt is part of the beginning of this delivery revolution. “We are proud to be a part of the Pitt community and work with this city,” said Harris-Burland.

Planning for Oakland’s Future

OBID Hosts Kick-off Meeting with Leadership Team

On November 12, 2019, the OBID Board of Directors, along with stakeholders in the Oakland area, met for a kick-off strategic planning meeting. This group, led by BDS Planning & Urban Design, will continue to meet throughout the next year to develop a plan to support the unprecedented growth and future demands of Oakland.

This meeting asked leadership to envision Oakland in 2020 and what they valued about it. Themes such as accessibility, diversity, and opportunities emerged. In a few words, they described the future of Oakland as vibrant, exciting, dynamic and inclusive. They also recognized that improper or poorly planned development may lead to increased costs, unsustainable growth, stagnancy, or loss of character. It was agreed that OBID’s role in the future of Oakland would be a strong and visible advocate for businesses and entrepreneurs. They would act as a catalyst for projects that wouldn’t get done otherwise, and a consensus builder across disparate organizations.

This team will be working throughout the next year to determine their vision and goals for the future of Oakland, and how OBID’s role may develop to support them. Stakeholder interviews, benchmarking trips, focus groups, and additional meetings will help to finalize a strategic plan.

Follow OBID’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on the strategic planning process.

Serving You. Taking Action.

OBID Receives Henry L. Hillman Foundation Grant

Through the generous support of a $150,000 grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the OBID Board of Directors is undertaking a comprehensive strategic plan focused on organizational growth, capacity building and strategic vision. The backdrop to this planning process is Oakland’s unprecedented growth and expansion underway in response to the building of Pittsburgh’s Innovation District. The OBID Board is undertaking this crucial exercise to further prepare our organization to service the demands of Oakland’s advancing global innovation center.

Having just completed a national search, the OBID has engaged the services of a consultant team to manage this process led by BDS Planning & Urban Design (Seattle, Washington) and Elisco’s Creative Café (Pittsburgh). We are excited to be working with the BDS and Elisco team as they bring us extensive knowledge and experience working with business improvement districts and place based management organizations.Working with the OBID Board of Directors, this team will manage the planning process over the next 12 months — and along with your input — help us create a bold, visionary plan that will support the outstanding growth of Oakland and your business.

Oakland For All: The Champions of Accessibility Year-Round

Advocating for a more accessibility-friendly business district, Oakland For All: Beyond Accessible is a collaborative program driven by Oakland stakeholders, nonprofit organizations, local and state government offices, as well as community advocates. Financial support for the program is donated in part by the FISA Foundation, Oakland Transportation Management Association, Oakland Business Improvement District and various private donors.

The mission of the program is to open a pathway to a community without barriers. Oakland For All strives to be an advocate for the creation of user friendly buildings, commercial establishments, public spaces and communities. Raising public’s awareness of accessibility and ADA is another key element of the program. The goal is not only to eliminate barriers for people with disabilities in Oakland, but also to help improve their quality of life. Eventually, Oakland For All hopes to transform Oakland into a model community that can be replicated in the greater Pittsburgh area and potentially throughout the country.

A big shout out to the committee members of Oakland For All – Alisa Grishman, Joan Stein, John Tague, Martell Covington, Mary Fletcher, Regis Charlton, Rev. Sally Jo Snyder, Vanessa Braun and everyone else on the committee! Thank you for being the flag bearers of this mission and for your valuable insights into making Oakland for all!

Oakland RAMP Crawl

The RAMP Crawl is an annual event that serves to increase awareness on accessibility along with an element of fun. Participants visit all the accessible establishments that are in Oakland, one at a time, while enjoying their services (food, drinks and more!). During registration one can expect gift bags, free drink tickets, swag and most importantly, a trip around Oakland with like-minded people who care and advocate for accessibility. 

RAMP Crawl is an initiative of Oakland for All – which in turn is a program run by OBID which advocates for creation of accessible establishments in Oakland. It was launched two years ago. Collectively, four businesses stepped forward for this event to champion accessibility. Sushi Fuku, MilkShake Factory, Yoga U PGH and Mario’s Oakland Saloon have been at the forefront of making their businesses accessible. 

OBID is committed to pushing for accessibility in the Oakland community and will continue to advocate for inclusivity!