Six-wheeled robots independently navigating the streets and sidewalks on Georgia Southern University’s Statesboro Campus may look a little strange. But it will soon be commonplace as these ground robots, which look like a cooler on wheels, have been mapping routes to campus locations in preparation for contactless food delivery this fall.
Thanks to a partnership with Starship Technologies, Georgia Southern is the first university in the state to provide faculty, staff and students with 20 autonomous delivery robots to deliver food from on-campus dining locations to designated pickup locations.
“Eagle Dining Services is excited to offer our students a new means of service with innovative technology,” said Jeff Yawn, executive director of Eagle Dining Services. “These robots allow us to serve more areas of campus, safely and securely in these unprecedented times.”
Starting Aug. 10, Starship’s robots will deliver food ordered on the Starship app from University dining facilities and places such as Starbucks, Market Street Deli and Sushi with Gusto to patrons around campus. The robots, which are energy efficient, can have their location and delivery time tracked by recipients through the app. They can also maneuver around obstacles such as pedestrians.
Once an order is placed and the desired delivery location is selected through the app, deliveries usually take 30 minutes or less. Delivery locations must be outside as the robots cannot enter buildings. The robots can only be unlocked by the recipient on the Starship app.
Information Technology Services (ITS), Auxiliary Services and Eagle Dining Services teamed up to bring Starship to the Statesboro Campus. ITS’ Clint Bridges, who has worked closely with the project, said he hopes bringing the robots to campus will help students feel more secure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My hope is that it brings a sense of enhanced safety and convenience to our students,” Bridges said. “While we are all living through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are hoping that the robots will allow for easier social distancing. The fact that students can order a meal from their residence hall room and have it delivered by an automated delivery vehicle keeps them close to home where they can feel the most at ease and still enjoy a meal from one of our dining locations on campus.”
Starship Technologies officials say the robots have been proven to be popular.
“Students are looking for ways to get food delivered in the safest and most convenient way possible at the moment,” said Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president of business development at Starship Technologies. “Our robots are fast, friendly and help make life a little bit easier especially in these challenging times.”