Autonomous robot food delivery is now available on the historic Horseshoe and the University of South Carolina’s core campus.
USC, in partnership with Grubhub and Starship Technologies, announced the first-in-the-state service to provide on-campus food delivery to the Gamecock community beginning Monday (Feb. 5).
Starship’s fleet of autonomous, on-demand robots will service over 30,000 Columbia campus students and its faculty and staff through the Grubhub app. The new service will begin with the campus community choosing from 11 different on-campus dining options.
“I’m excited to see our new robot friends on our campus,” USC President Michael Amiridis said. “I’m sure our students will welcome them and put them to work to deliver their food.”
In the first phase of the service, the robots will deliver to locations in the main campus area bounded by Assembly, Blossom and Gervais streets. An expanded delivery area is planned for the future.
Each robot can carry the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods and is insulated to keep food hot and drinks cool en route to delivery destinations.
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. More information on the robots can be found on the Carolina Food Co. website.
Grubhub and Starship are already providing robot food delivery services to campuses across the country, including at the University of Kentucky and University of Tennessee. Since launching, all campuses have increased the number of robots, dining options and hours of operations to meet the growing demand for the service.
“We’re looking forward to launching our first service in South Carolina,” said Chris Neider, vice president of business development at Starship Technologies. “It’s extra special each time we launch service in a new state and we’re really excited to introduce the USC campus to our little robots and the convenience of autonomous delivery.”
“We’re proud to build on our partnership with the University of South Carolina by offering robot delivery to students and faculty,” said Rob DelaCruz, vice president and general manager of Grubhub Campus. “This type of delivery is a perfect fit for campus environments to provide scalable and cost-effective food delivery solutions to students. We’ve seen that students love the convenience and repeatedly choose this fun, new way to get their meals delivered right to their door.”
Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its zero-emission robots make more than 150,000 road crossings every day and have completed more than 5 million commercial deliveries globally, more than any other autonomous delivery provider.