SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Students and staff at Missouri State University will have an interesting new way to grab lunch soon: an autonomous robotic delivery service.
Today, the Starship Technologies robot food delivery service rolls out. This will put 20 squat six-wheeled robotic vehicles on the university walkways. People will be able to use their phones to order food from on-campus eateries, including Panda Express, Subway, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and more.
“Starship robots have landed here at Missouri State University,” said Annie Hendrick, the Starship Technologies campus marketing manager.
Hendricks said that a team came to MSU to map the entire campus in order to program the robots. With these maps, the robots can navigate around buildings and stay on paths. In addition to GPS mapping, the robots will also use sensors to know where they are going. Any time a human or other obstacle gets in their way, the robots can sense and go around them.
To order food to be delivered by the robots, people must download the Starship Food Delivery app on their iOS or Android phones. Through the app, people can drop a location pin where they want the delivery to be sent. The app shows the robot’s progress as it picks up food and delivers it to the location pin. When it arrives, it alerts the person who ordered the food, who can then use their phone to open the robot’s food storage area. The food is locked away in the robot for the entire journey.
Hendricks said that the robots can keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Whether it’s a smoothie or three grocery bags full of dinner, the robots can handle them. Depending on where the robot, restaurant, and destination pin are, the robots can deliver food anywhere from 5-30 minutes.
Students will be able to use their meal plan with the service. The delivery fee is $2.50.