SIOUX FALLS, SD – Thirty small, six-wheeled, bath-shaped robots now roam the South Dakota State University campus delivering food and drinks, making the school the first in the state to implement a robotic food delivery service.
The white and gray autonomous robots, about 2 feet in size, each crowned with a small orange flag, are manufactured by Starship Technologies of San Francisco. The company recently deployed a fleet to begin delivering food on the Brookings, South Dakota campus.
The robot food delivery service works alongside the student meal plan and is available through the Starship food delivery app for smartphones. Each robot can deliver up to £ 20 to 14,000 university students and faculty. Robots are currently delivering goods from three eateries on campus: Grille Works, Papa John’s, and Starbucks, with more locations coming soon.
Those ordering food through robots can place their order, direct the robot to a dropped pin on a virtual map in the app, follow the robot’s journey, and then use the code in the app to open the robot and retrieve their items.
Collegian, an independent student newspaper at the university, reported some mixed feelings about robots among students on campus, as evidenced by their anonymous posts on the Yik Yak app, which allows users within 5 miles of each other to start conversations. …
“One user said,” I’m going to steal one of these robots and leave him as a pet. ” Another user said, “If you saw me kick the robot, then no,” said Brina Sturm from Collegian.
Starship Technologies says robots use machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to move along sidewalks and avoid obstacles.
“Computer vision-based navigation helps robots map their environment to the nearest inch. The robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and work in both rain and snow, ”the company said.
While robots use sensors for autonomous driving, they are monitored by humans who can take control at any time.
“We are excited about this partnership, robotics technology and student employment opportunities that Starship will bring to our campus,” said Doug Vermedahl, SDSU’s deputy vice president of student affairs, in a press release.
Starship Technologies said they are already on campuses across the country, including Arizona State University, Purdue University, George Mason University and Northern Arizona University.
“We are thrilled to debut at SDSU in South Dakota,” said Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president of business development and sales for Starship Technologies. “Winters can be harsh here, so we know students, faculty and staff will appreciate robots delivering their food and drink orders. We look forward to providing this convenient service and becoming part of the campus community. “