food delivery robot
Residents of the University of Idaho campus receive food from multiple Idaho Eats locations by robots.
The service is provided by Starship Technologies, which launched the technology on campuses in 2018 and now operates food delivery robots on two dozen college campuses across the United States. The U of I campus has a fleet of 15 food delivery robots, each of which can carry the equivalent of about three bags of groceries.
“Whether you’re in the administration building and you don’t have time and you don’t have time to run around here and get food, it allows you to skip the lines, order in advance and have it delivered directly to you,” said Kim Howe, Idaho Eats Marketing and Guest Experience at the University of Idaho.
“It costs the price of a meal plus a delivery charge of $1.99, which is very reasonable compared to other delivery charges. And it integrates with our Meal Plan so all students under Meal Plan if they have Catering Dollars, their Catering Dollars will cover everything including the cost of the meal and the $1.99 delivery charge. $. So, it’s amazing, it’s a great added value for students on a meal plan and faculty and staff on a meal plan. It gives them that extra convenience,” Howe said.
And if you’re not on a meal plan, you can just use a regular credit card.
The robot cruises at up to 4 mph and can hold around 20 pounds in its delivery compartment, which is cleaned before and after each delivery.
Andrew Tucker, site manager of Starship Technologies. “It’s got loads of accessories, so you can put a pizza box in there if you have to. And then you can drink up to six glasses and you can still put a whole bunch of stuff in there,” Tucker said.
“On the front there’s a whole bunch of cameras and other sensors, there’s stuff in place that prevents it from bumping into nearby obstacles, but then it works on a map that it gets from an AI so it’s actually drawn by a computer that when an order comes in like you place your order the AI draws a path for it and it’s optimized per trip so it just starts working on better paths and better times to get to you, so it speeds up over time because it learns about it,” Tucker says.