SpaceX ‘getting ready’ to fly orbital Starship design with new FCC filing – gpgmail


SpaceX is taking the steps necessary to begin test flying the orbital-class version of its Starship spacecraft, with new documents filed by the company (via Teslarati) with the FCC seeking necessary permissions for it to communicate with the prototype while it’s in flight.

The company filed documents with the U.S. regulatory agency this week in advance of the flight, which lists a max altitude of 74,000 feet, which is a far cry from Earth orbit but still a much greater distance vs. the 500 or so feet achieved by the squat ‘Starhopper’ demonstration and test vehicle that SpaceX has been actively operating in preparation for Starship .

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed that prep was underway via tweet. Musk has previously said that he hoped to follow the Starhopper’s most recent and final successful test quickly with tests of the full-scale vehicle. Like with that low-altitude test, SpaceX will aim to launch and land the Starhopper, with touch down planned just a short distance away.

Assembly and construction of the Starship prototype looks to be well underway, and Musk recently teased a Starship update event for September 28, which is likely when we’ll see this prototype assembled and ready to go ahead of its planned October first test flight window.

Starship is the next generation of SpaceX spacecraft, designed for maximum reusability, and with the aim of creating one vehicle that can serve the needs of current and future customers, eventually replacing both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Starship is also a key ingredient in Musk’s ambitious plan to reach and establish a continuing human presence on Mars.


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Top EC articles in August, Apple privacy woes, autonomous delivery robotics Starship, and Zhihu – gpgmail


Top Articles in August

We are back from Labor Day (which an ironically somewhat unkind Canadian EC subscriber noted also takes place up north). August was the most successful month for Extra Crunch since our launch about six months ago — so thank you to the thousands of new and continuing members that help us sustain quality journalism and analysis.

For those who took extended vacations last month, here are the top five most popular articles among EC members we published last month:

Y Combinator Demo Day: We picked our favorites from day one and day two and our venture capital reporter Kate Clark wrote an analysis of what the 160+ startups in the batch seemed to indicate about YC’s investment theses these days. YC remains as popular as ever if EC members’ curiosity with these articles is any indication.

How a Swedish saxophonist built Kobalt, the world’s next music unicorn: Our Extra Crunch media columnist Eric Peckham traveled to Europe to report out this deep dive into Kobalt, which is upending traditional music rights management, and is closing in on unicorn status as well. This origin story here was one of my favorites, since it showed how tenacity against incredible adversity can lead to success in the long run. I am editing Eric’s next two parts of this EC-1 as I write this, so expect those shortly.

How Dropbox, Nike, Salesforce, MailChimp, Google and Pepsi welcome their new hires: This was a bit of a surprise one for me. Our guest writer Vladimir Polo has been collecting welcome kits from different companies for years, and he compiled all of them for this piece on how different companies think about welcoming employees.

WeWork’s S-1 misses these three key points: WeWork is the most polarizing startup I have seen in sometime. So I read through the S-1 (yes, all 200-300 pages of the damn thing) to find a couple of nuggets I thought the company was missing from the filing (which, in itself, was a follow up of my EC analysis of what we should expect to see in the S-1 in the first place).

How should B2B startups think about growth? Not like B2C: Finally, we had our guest writers Kevin Barry and Tyler Elliston discuss the differences between marketing and growing a B2B startup and how that compares with B2C startups. They give a detailed guide on the ways to think about growth in B2B and the tactical tools that these startups can use.

Apple still has work to do on privacy

Over the long weekend, our privacy and policy writer Natasha Lomas wrote an insightful analysis of what we know about Apple’s privacy promises given the news that the company was offering Siri recordings to contractors for grading. Lomas sees Apple’s privacy promises as quite cynical given the context, but also sees an opportunity for the company to right its past wrongs.


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Starship Technologies CEO Lex Bayer on focus and opportunity in autonomous delivery – gpgmail


Starship Technologies is fresh off a recent $40 million funding round, and the robotics startup finds itself in a much-changed market compared to when it got its start in 2014. Founded by software industry veterans including Skype and Rdio co-founder Janis Friis, Starship’s focus is entirely on building and commercialization fleets of autonomous sidewalk delivery robots.

Starship invented this category when it debuted, but five years later it’s one of a number of companies looking to deploy what essentially amounts to wheeled, self-driven coolers that can carry small packages and everyday freight including fresh food to waiting customers. CEO Lex Bayer, a former sales leader from Airbnb, took over the top spot at Starship last year and is eager to focus the company’s efforts in a drive to take full advantage of its technology and experience lead.

The result is transforming what looked, to all external observers, like a long tail technology play into a thriving commercial enterprise.

“We want to do 100 universities in the next 24 months, and we’ll do about 25 to 50 robots in each campus,” Bayer said in an interview about his company’s plans for the future.


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Starship Technologies Wants to Deploy Thousands of Delivery Robots at US Colleges


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College campuses are being flooded with new students right now, but there could be some other new arrivals if Starship Technologies has its way. The robotics company has closed a new round of funding that will allow it to deploy a small army of autonomous sidewalk delivery robots to as many as 100 college campuses around the US. 

The six-wheeled Starship robots are small, about knee-high, and fully electric. Since launching in 2018, Starship Technologies has tested its robots in more than 100 cities in 20 different countries. They’ve rolled 350,000 miles, crossed 4 million streets, and made over 100,000 deliveries. The robot uses a bank of cameras inside its Cylon-like visor to scan the world and identify objects. 

Starship Technologies says it has secured $40 million through series-A funding to get the new rollout going. The deployment has already started at George Mason University and the University of Northern Arizona, and it will expand to the University of Pittsburgh and the Purdue University in Indiana in September. Starship plans to have between 25 and 50 robots active on each campus within two years. Therefore, it could have a fleet of more than 5,000 delivery bots visiting dorm rooms by 2021. 

A Starship delivery robot.

Starship Technologies is interested in college campuses for several reasons. First, there are a lot of people living in a small space who are likely to order items online. The robots have a top speed of 4 miles per hour, so they won’t cover a lot of ground, but they can haul 20 pounds of cargo. A single robot could make several deliveries around campus in a short time. Colleges also have plenty of walking paths with well-defined boundaries and pedestrian traffic. That’s an ideal environment to improve the autonomous driving technology.

Customers can use Starship Technologies to get groceries, meals, packages, and more. It just costs $1.99 per order, much less than similar outfits that use people to deliver orders. Starship Technologies thinks this approach will appeal to students who don’t want to inconvenience a real person to bring them some random item. Although, the robots won’t be able to come to the door like a human. They can roll up curbs, but steps are a no-go. Starship CEO Lex Bayer thinks buildings may eventually build ramps and doors specifically for delivery robots, but we’re a long way from that.

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