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‘Starship’ robots seek return to Walnut Creek sidewalks

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The Walnut Creek City Council is scheduled to discuss on Tuesday extending an agreement allowing a year-old delivery robot pilot program to continue.

The council is poised to extend for one year an agreement with Starship Technologies to operate semi-autonomous delivery robots in the downtown area. The original agreement was signed in July 2017, and a short time later, Starship’s small six-wheeled robots became common sights rolling along Walnut Creek’s downtown sidewalks.

During their first run in Walnut Creek, the robots rolled a collective 849 miles with no delivery incidents or operational issues, according to a city staff report.

The Starship robots have since been withdrawn from Walnut Creek for technological updates, according to that city report, but the San Francisco-based company anticipates their return to local service this spring – if the original 2017 agreement is extended.

Starship is excited at the prospect of returning. In a statement, the company said, “Walnut Creek is very attractive to Starship because it has (a) a community that is sensitive to environmental issues, (b) a strong, diverse set of potential partners and (c) an excellent sidewalk infrastructure.”

The extension would be for one year, until Dec. 31, 2019.

Walnut Creek has similar robot trial program agreements with two other companies, San Francisco-based Marble and Oakland-based BoxBot.

Tuesday’s Walnut Creek City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1666 N. Main St.

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