It’s back-to-school season here in the U.S, and for an increasing number of students, that means getting back to robot food delivery on campus. Along those lines, Starship announced today that it is growing its roster of college campus clients with the addition of robot delivery at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), University of Kentucky (UK), University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach, FL campus.
Starship makes cooler-sized robots that autonomously scurry along sidewalks to bring food and other goods to people. Customers order through the Starship mobile app (depending on location can use credit/debit card or student meal plan), and can watch the robot on a map as it makes its journey. Once it arrives, customers unlock the cargo compartment using the Starship app.
According to a press release sent to The Spoon, robot delivery service has already kicked off at UNR and Embry-Riddle. The University of Kentucky will get its robots next week and UIC’s program will start this fall. Starship provided the following breakdown of its added robot delivery:
- UIC: 25 robots, with 11 merchants including Starbucks, Panda Express and Freshii
- UK: 20 robots, starting with 7 merchants including Starbucks, Subway and Auntie Anne’s
- UNR: 20 robots, with 14 merchants including Panera Bread, Habit Burger and Baja Fresh
- Embry-Riddle: 20 robots, with 10 merchants including Starbucks, QDOBA, Flight Cafe and Legacy Walk Wings Food Truck
We’ve been chronicling the rise of Starship’s college delivery program since the company kicked it off at George Mason University back in January of 2019. Starship now serves nearly 20 different campuses in 15 states.
Starship is not the only robot delivery service hitting colleges however. Last year, Kiwibot, which makes its own cooler-sized rovers, partnered with Sodexo to bring robot food delivery to the University of Denver campus. While both companies use robots, there is a difference in the user experience for each service. Kiwibot integrates with the Sodexo food ordering app, while Starship requires users to download its own mobile app.
Starship weathered the pandemic last year despite forced closures of colleges and universities across the country. Having lived through that experience, I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more colleges adopt robot-powered delivery this school because of its contactless nature.