I live in a rural area, and a lot of the cool food delivery options aren’t available. So I was excited to see Kiwi’s rover bots scurrying around when I attended the TechCrunch Robotics and AI Sessions at UC Berkeley yesterday.

Having these robots on hand came in robot-handy during lunch when all the nearby eateries were choked with conference attendees and hungry students. Rather than waste my limited break standing in a long line, I downloaded the Kiwi mobile app to have a robot fetch me some grub while I did some work. In doing so I glimpsed into the bright future of college food delivery, and it is robots.

Well, almost.

Future college kids won’t know how lucky they’ll have it when campuses all operate fleets of robotic rovers making deliveries day and night. Robot delivery will be easy, fast, convenient and will free up much more time for beer pong studying.

Here’s how it worked.

I downloaded the Kiwi app and set up an account, which was pretty straightforward (though no Apple Pay option yet). After that, Kiwi’s marketplace brings up a list of nearby participating restaurants and alerted me to special offers. I placed two separate orders: a burrito from a local Mexican restaurant, and a boba tea from a different establishment.

On its face, robo-delivery isn’t cheap. There’s a $3.80 fee Kiwi tacks on which brought the total of my burrito to $16 and my boba to a little under $6. Twenty-two bucks for lunch ain’t nothin’, but if you know going into it that you are paying for the convenience of staying in one place and doing what you want (beer pong), while a robot runs across town, goes to two different restaurants and brings all your food back to you, the fee didn’t feel that bad.

I dropped a pin to mark the delivery location and placed my order. The Kiwi app did a good job of keeping me up to date on the robot’s progress:

Your robot is going to get your food!

Your robot has your food!

Your robot is ten minutes away!

Your robot is 3 minutes away!

Your robot is 0 minutes away!

Your robot is 0 minutes away!

Your robot is 0 minutes away!

That’s not a typo, this was when the experience broke down. The app told me the robot was basically at my feet… but there was no robot. The shortcomings of automated service were beginning to come into focus. Because it was stuck on 0 minutes away, there was no action I could take (re-center the map, have it make a ping! sound, etc.) to understand where it was and there was no apparent “Help Me” button I could push.

Thankfully, there was a human Kiwi operative nearby who was able to locate my robot roughly 25 yards away from where the app said it was. A company rep after the fact told me the issue was that there were too many Kiwis in one place (gathered for the conference), and mine got confused/stuck.

Which is too bad. Because the human helped me out, I didn’t really get the full experience, like seeing the live video feed broadcast by the robot, or use my phone to open it up.

Once open, I saw the only other bummer about my delivery (disclaimer: this is THE MOST first world problem in the world): My ice cold boba tea was place on top of the hot burrito. (Wanh-wanh. Please give to my GoFundMe). This is a bit of a nit pick, but robot delivery services are just starting out, they have to show that they can do a just-as-good-if-not-better-job than humans. That means getting restaurants to actually care about how they place food in the robot. There should be a cool side and a warm side.

Minor quibbles aside, it’s easy to see how robots will be a big hit on campuses. Colleges are contained geographic areas with lots of hungry people ordering food from on-campus or nearby establishments well into the night. Robots can easily access dorms and labs much more easily than a human driver needing to find a parking spot and still walk the quad to make a delivery. And if you bundle up multiple orders from a single restaurant, the economics make more sense for students.

All these reasons help explain, as Kiwi said from the stage at our recent ArticulATE summit, why the company is quietly expanding from two colleges to fifteen schools including Purdue, Cornell, NYU, Stanford, and Harvard. Of equal interest is the fact that students will be running the robot programs at these schools, taking care of maintenance and deployments. Kiwi didn’t elaborate on any student payment/financial relationship.

Kiwi isn’t the only rover robot company hip to the college scene. Starship is doing delivery at George Mason University and Northern Arizona University, and Robby is doing mobile commerce at the University of the Pacific.

Robot delivery isn’t perfect yet, but we’re in the first inning of whatever sport college kids will play in the future. Perhaps in ten year’s time my son will be writing me at our rural home to tell me about all the robot deliveries on his campus. He definitely won’t be playing beer pong, right?

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