European startup Starship Technologies is bringing its six-wheeled delivery robots to a university campus in Virginia. The company announced Monday that George Mason University will allow students to use its meal plans for robots to send selected food and beverage orders to them.
Starship says it is providing George Mason with at least 25 robots, and orders for Blaze Pizza, Starbucks and Dunkin ‘will be available up front. More will be added in the “next few weeks” and each order will cost an extra $ 1.99.
Delivery bots can carry products up to 20 pounds, and they have been tested in various cities around the world in recent years, often in association with services like DoorDash or Postmates. Starship robots are capable of self-driving on sidewalks, over curbs, and operating in rain or snow and at night, depending on the start. They navigate around people and other objects thanks to the cameras built around the outside of the robot.
Students will be able to place their orders through the Starship mobile app, which is on both iOS and Android. They can place a pin on the map to tell the robot where to go (deliveries will take place “anywhere” on campus, according to the Starship press release), and they can monitor its progress along the journey. For students who are concerned about someone leaving with their late night snack, the robots have a zippered lid that can only be opened by the person who placed the order. Trips are also monitored in real time by Starship employees, who use the robot’s cameras to monitor any foul play.
While Starship robots have been operating around the world for a while, the company isn’t the first to test deliveries on campus. Rival startup Kiwi has had its robots touring UC Berkeley in California since last summer, but ran into some trouble when a robot caught fire last December.