When students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University order food on campus this semester, their deliveries will arrive by an unexpected source – a robot.
Starship Technologies rolled out its robot food delivery service Tuesday on Embry Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus, making it the first university in Florida to offer automated delivery robot service to its students. On-demand, zero-emission deliveries will now be part of the dining options offered by food service provider Sodexo, providing a greener way for Eagles to score quick meals.
Starship’s fleet of 20 autonomous robots will deliver from 10 campus eateries. The school’s nearly 7,000 students and faculty can now use the Starship Food Delivery app (iOS and Android) to order food and drinks from local retailers to be delivered anywhere on campus, within minutes. The service works in conjunction with the student meal plan. The entire fleet of robots and the complete roster of restaurants will be fully operational when students return to campus in late August.
“It’s just another example of Embry-Riddle staying at the cutting edge of science and technology,” said Associate Vice President for Facilities Kevin Kreide. “Not only do we get to add this innovative new service option, but Starship Delivery also hires many students to handle the programming and maintenance for these autonomous machines, which is a perfect fit for students in Engineering and Robotics programs.”
To get started, users open the Starship Deliveries app, choose from a range of their favorite food or drink items, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert, and can then meet and unlock it through the app. The delivery usually takes just a matter of minutes, depending on the menu items ordered and the distance the robot must travel. Each robot can carry up to 20 pounds – the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods.
Kreide added, “It’s a win-win. Food just tastes better when a robot delivers it to your door.”
Starship is already providing services to 16 universities across the country. Reaching a maximum speed of 4 miles per hour, its robots have made more than 1.5 million deliveries, traveled millions of miles and make more than 80,000 road crossings daily. The robots use a combination of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to navigate, mapping their environments to the nearest inch. The robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow. A team of humans can also monitor their progress remotely and can take control at a moment’s notice.
“We love working with innovative schools and look forward to hiring some of the students from the highly ranked engineering program,” said Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president of Business Development at Starship Technologies. “We think the Embry-Riddle campus community will not only enjoy the convenience that our on-demand robot delivery service provides, but they’ll appreciate having the opportunity to use this technology on a daily basis.”
Those who place orders via the robots will receive documentation of the gasoline and emissions they saved.
“We’re proud to partner with both Embry-Riddle and Starship Technologies to elevate the student experience,” added Torrie Smith, general manager of Retail/Catering for Sodexo. “Rooted in convenience and timeliness, this technology supports Sodexo’s commitment to enhance and improve the quality of life for the Embry-Riddle community.”