Autonomous food delivery robots launched at US university campus

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A joint effort between Starship Technologies, Grubhub, and the University of Notre Dame will see a fleet of autonomous last-mile delivery robots delivering food to over 17,000 students, faculty, and staff at the university campus in Indiana.

Through the Grubhub app, customers of six food establishments on campus, including a Taco Bell, will be able to order food and have it arrive via a Starship autonomous robot.

The restaurants that support this method of delivery will be labelled with ‘Offers Robot Delivery’ on the app, allowing users to input a location for the robot to navigate to. The robot can be tracked along the way and customers will receive a notification once the robot reaches its destination.

Access to the food can only be granted by unlocking the robot through the app, helping to prevent theft. Each robot can ‘carry the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods’.

Adam Herbert, Senior Director of Campus Partnerships at Grubhub, said: “We’re excited to bring robot delivery to Notre Dame’s campus and continue supporting innovation within its campus dining program.”

He added: “Robot delivery is a natural progression of the work we’ve been doing with Notre Dame for years.”

University Enterprises and Events worked with Starship in Autumn 2022 to map delivery routes across the Notre Dame campus in preparation for the introduction of these autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

Luigi Alberganti, Executive Director of Campus Dining at the University of Notre Dame, believes that the robots are a “fun addition to [the university]community” and will have a “positive impact” on campus.

He explains: “They are part of our ongoing effort to bring innovative solutions to Campus Dining, they’ll expand our omnichannel retail strategy and they’ll provide flexibility and accessibility for our students”.

Starship has been involved in similar projects in the UK, including the launch of Co-op delivery robots in Leeds.


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