Starship sidewalk robot

Starship announced today that it is heading off to (another) college.

Starting today, Starship will deploy 30 little delivery robots to Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, AZ. The school’s 25,000 students and faculty can use the Starship app to order meals from campus eateries and set a location for the robot to deliver the food. There’s a $1.99 delivery fee and orders will arrive in a “matter of minutes” according the press release, depending on the food ordered and the drop-off point. Students can pay for their food with their existing campus meal plan.

Today’s announcement follows a similar program Starship launched in January on the campus of George Mason University in Virginia. Both programs are done in conjunction with food service management company, Sodexo.

Starship’s Senior VP, Business Development, Ryan Tuohy is speaking at our upcoming ArticulATE food robotics conference next month. In a recent Q&A, we asked Tuohy how students were interacting with the robots. He responded:

The vast majority of people notice the robot on the sidewalk and simply pass by it. Initially, some people take a selfie or a photo of the robot. This effect diminishes over time as people in the particular location become familiar with seeing the robot in the area.

College and corporate campuses are a key go-to market strategy for Starship and other rover bot companies such as Kiwi (UC Berkeley) and Robby (University of the Pacific). Campuses are attractive for robot delivery and mobile commerce because they hold sizeable populations that either live or spend most of their time in one distinct — usually easily walkable (read: robot rollable) geographic locations — and have their own restaurants on-site.

FWIW, Arizona, like Florida, is turning into a hotbed of food robots. Over in Scottsdale, AZ, Kroger has been piloting grocer delivery via self-driving vehicles. If you want to know where the future of robots lies, then you should definitely come to our ArticulATE summit on April 16th in San Francisco to see Tuohy speak and interact robots like Kiwi and Penny up close.

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