January 23, 2019

Robots do food delivery to satisfy university students’ munchies

By Priya Kantaria

Starbucks, Dunkin’ and Blaze Pizza have signed up to the launch of a fleet of food delivery robots at the George Mason University in the US.

Starship Technologies are providing 40,000 university students, faculty and staff with food and drinks delivered via a robot anywhere on campus within minutes.

The robot delivery will cost only a couple of dollars, matching the prices asked for by competing companies such as Grubhub or Deliveroo, the latter of which is popular across Europe, with no tip required.


Robot fleet delivers food to campus

The fleet of food delivery robots has more than 25 robots that promise to help students enjoy a better campus experience and make their lives a little easier.

“We’re excited that our students, faculty and staff get to be at the forefront of this pioneering campus food delivery service,” said Mark Kraner, executive director for Campus Retail Operations at George Mason University.

“This will enhance life for everyone at the University, and that’s something we’re continuously looking to build upon. Our commitment to providing an optimal campus experience is one of the things that distinguishes George Mason University as a place where everyone can thrive.”

Food delivery robots “fun and convenient”

The robot delivery works through a typical format, via an app where you choose from a set of menus.

You then drop a pin for the delivery location so the robot goes to the exact place you need it to be, and you can follow the robot’s journey by the interactive map.

Starship has even considered the food delivery’s security, with the robot needing to be unlocked through the app when it arrives.

“College students understand the benefits of technology on campus and expect it to be integrated into their daily lives,” said Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president in business development at Starship Technologies.

“Being able to get food delivered to me within minutes is going to be fun and convenient,” said Mason student Jenna Dayton.

“The lines can get long in between classes, and once you get a table at the library, you don’t want to give it up. Not only will this make my life easier as a student, but I’m going to get a visit from a robot!”

Fully autonomous and AI-driven robots

Starship Technologies is an autonomous delivery service that builds robots, which use machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to travel on pavements and navigate around obstacles.

They have computer vision-based navigation that helps them map the environment to within an inch and the robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and can deliver in snow or rain.

They are stored in pods around the campus and their batteries automatically switch on and off so that they operate independently without human involvement.

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