Students and educators at Virginia's George Mason University are about to get a taste of the future of food delivery, with Starship Technologies today launching a new service involving the largest fleet yet of its six-wheeled robots. The unmanned vehicles will begin bringing food to wherever customers may be on campus, with the company hoping to offer new convenience for busy folks with rumbling bellies.
Starship Technologies has put its roving food couriers to work in a number of pilot projects around the world, most recently through a trial at a company campus in Mountain View California. The service works via a mobile app, which allows customers to order food from participating cafes and restaurants and simply drop a pin on map to set a meeting point.
The retailers then load up the robot's cargo hold with the goods and send it on its way, with the vehicle using a mix of 360-degree cameras and infrared and ultrasonic sensors to travel autonomously to its destination. A notification is pushed to the customer's phone once the robot has arrived and they're charged a US$1.99 flat rate for delivery on top of the purchase price of the food.
According to Starship Technologies, its robots have now traveled more than 150,000 miles (240,000 km) and carried out more than 25,000 deliveries through these trials. It is now set to deploy what it says is the world's largest fleet of delivery robots on a university campus. This isn't as grandiose as it sounds and will involve 25 robots at launch, which can each carry up to 20 lb (11.3 kg) with deliveries promised to usually take "15 minutes or less."
"Being able to get food delivered to me within minutes is going to be fun and convenient," says Mason student Jenna Dayton. "The lines can get long in between classes, and once you get a table at the library, you don't want to give it up. Not only will this make my life easier as a student, but I'm going to get a visit from a robot!"
Source: Starship Technologies
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