A new system of delivering food is coming to college campuses all over America, according to Mashable. Starship Technologies’ new mini robots began their journey to serving college students’ their coffee and donuts at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, with a fleet of twenty-five bots fulfilling food and drink orders to the 40,000 students, faculty, and staff. The first retailers to get in on the action are Starbucks, Blaze Pizza, and Dunkin’ Donuts.
The bots bring food and drinks to students and teachers on a campus meal plan run via Sodexo, a food services company that serves thousands of universities. Patrons order through an app, pay a $1.99 delivery fee, and find their food rolling up within a few minutes.
The bots can hold up to twenty pounds, roughly the equivalent of three grocery shopping bags full of food. Sensors and computer vision help the robots detect obstacles so that they can cross the street, roll over curbs, travel in the dark, and navigate rain and snow.
Starship first tested these bots out on in Silicon Valley, delivering snacks to employees working for various tech industry companies. So far, the bots have traveled 150,000 miles in 25,000 trips.
Starship is not the first to make food and drink delivery autonomous. PepsiCo. announced a few weeks ago at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California the release of their new “snackbot,” which strives for the same mission of allowing people to order food without interrupting their Netflix binge.
Another automated food delivery robot called the KiwiBot debuted on the UC Berkeley Campus in 2017. It captured public attention this past December when one caught on fire and a community member had to extinguish the flames. Cleary despondent over the loss of one of their new campus heroes, the students held a candlelit vigil.