First university in Ohio to offer autonomous delivery
Bowling Green State University and Starship Technologies Launch Robot Delivery Service
Bowling Green State University and Starship Technologies launched a robot food delivery service today on the University’s Bowling Green campus. BGSU is the first university in Ohio to offer the service as a convenience for its students. There are currently no other autonomous delivery providers operating in the state.
Through a partnership with the University’s food-service provider – Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services – Starship’s fleet of 30 autonomous, on-demand robots will deliver from nine campus eateries: Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Jamba Juice, Marco's Pizza, Panda Express, Chickendippity, Mondos Subs, Kreischer Late Night and BGSU Dining convenience stores.
The partnership is expected to create new employment opportunities for students interested in mechatronics and robotics. BGSU’s fast-growing mechatronics program is designed to meet evolving engineering and technology workforce needs.
Campus visitors and the school’s nearly 23,000 students, faculty and staff can now use the Starship app (iOS and Android) to order food and drinks from these dining outlets to be delivered anywhere on campus, within minutes. In addition to accepting credit cards, the service also works in conjunction with student meal plans.
“As a public University, we’re committed to harnessing technology and innovation, inside and out of the classroom, to better serve our students and the community,” said BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers. “We’re pleased to welcome autonomous delivery to our campus and excited to leverage the latest state-of-the-art artificial intelligence to engage current and future students.”
While BGSU is the company’s first location in Ohio, Starship is already providing services to campuses across the country including George Mason University, Northern Arizona University and Purdue University. Since launch, these campuses have increased the number of robots, dining options and hours of operation to meet the high demand for the service.
To get started, users open the Starship Deliveries app, choose from a range of their favorite food or drink items, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert, and can then meet and unlock it through the app. The delivery usually takes just a matter of minutes, depending on the menu items ordered and the distance the robot must travel. Each robot can carry up to 20 lbs – the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods.
The service at BGSU will initially be limited to the core campus area bounded by East Wooster Street to the south, Poe Road to the north, Mercer Road to the east and Thurstin Street to the west. Delivery is available from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily.
“I’m really excited for these robots! Being able to get breakfast delivered right to my door with my meal plan will be a lifesaver for early classes and long cold days,” said Sophia Fonte, a junior marketing major from North Canton, Ohio.
Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its robots have traveled over 350,000 miles, crossed more than 5 million streets and completed more than 100,000 commercial deliveries. The robots use a combination of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to travel on sidewalks and navigate around obstacles. The computer vision-based navigation helps the robots to map their environment to the nearest inch. The robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow. A team of humans can also monitor their progress remotely and can take control at a moment’s notice.
“We can’t wait for students, faculty and staff at BGSU to start benefiting from autonomous delivery on campus,” said Ryan Tuohy, SVP Business Development at Starship Technologies. “We’re proud to be working with BGSU and Chartwells to be the first autonomous delivery service in the state of Ohio.”