Convenience is the name of the game when it comes to delivery, and at one university in Virginia they are turning to robots. George Mason University has partnered with Starship Technologies and Sodexo, a global provider of food and facilities management services, to help transform the future of food delivery.
A fleet of more than 25 robots are helping to deliver menu items from Starbucks, Dunkin’, and Blaze Pizza to 40,000 students, faculty, and staff on campus within 15 minutes or fewer. According to Sodexo and Starship, it’s the largest such implementation of autonomous robot food delivery services on a university campus anywhere in the world.
“College students understand the benefits of technology on campus and expect it to be integrated into their daily lives,” says Ryan Tuohy, SVP, Business Development, Starship Technologies. “With the hectic schedules students lead, there is a convenience for students to have their food, groceries, and packages delivered. Our goal is to make life a little bit easier for students, whether that means skipping the line, eating lunch on the lawn rather than in the cafe, or finding the time to eat better when studying for exams. Commuter students can even meet the robot on their way into class. We look forward to seeing how our service will help and support the daily lives and community of students and educators at George Mason University.”
Students place an order through the Starship app, drop a pin for the delivery location, and can follow an interactive map to track the robot’s location as it makes its way across campus. They then receive a notification when the robot arrives and can unlock the robot to retrieve their order, all through the app. Each robot can carry up to 20 pounds, which is the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods.
“We're excited that our students, faculty, and staff get to be at the forefront of this pioneering campus food delivery service,” says Mark Kraner, Executive Director for Campus Retail Operations at George Mason University. “This will enhance life for everyone at the University, and that's something we're continuously looking to build upon. Our commitment to providing an optimal campus experience is one of the things that distinguishes George Mason University as a place where everyone can thrive.”
Sodexo and Starship plan to expand the program to additional campus locations globally in the future.