October 25, 2021
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) and its food services provider, Sodexo, have teamed up with Starship Technologies to roll out the university’s food delivery service via autonomous robots. NC A&T is the first historically Black college or university (HBCU) to partner with Starship, as well as its first partnership in North Carolina.
Starship’s fleet of 20 autonomous, on-demand robots will deliver food from three campus restaurants (Qdoba, 1891 Bistro and Paavo’s Pizza), with the goal of adding other retailers by next spring. Students, faculty and staff can use the Starship Food Delivery app (iOS and Android) to order food and drinks to be delivered on campus, within minutes.
“As a STEM university, A&T and Sodexo’s partnership with Starship Technologies’ autonomous delivery robots falls right in line with what we are about,” said Angela Peterson, associate vice chancellor for Campus Enterprises. “We are incredibly excited to provide this service to our students to help minimize wait times and do it using a real-world application of technology similar to what some of our students are studying.”
Delivery fees will be covered for students by the university for two years, and it will work in conjunction with student meal plans, the university said.
“We are excited to be the first to bring this innovative service to a historically black college and university campus,” said Joseph Burdi, Sodexo district manager for North Carolina A&T Dining Services. “The program will provide added convenience for today’s busy students and meet their increased dining expectations.”
The Starship zero-emission robots use a combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to travel on sidewalks and navigate around obstacles. Computer vision-based navigation helps robots map their environment to the nearest inch. The robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel day and night and operate in both rain and snow. The company said a team of humans can also monitor their progress remotely and take control at a moment’s notice.
Starship’s robots are already providing services to other Sodexo-serviced campuses across the country, including George Mason University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and Northern Arizona University.
Last week, Starship announced that its robots had completed 2 million autonomous deliveries, with its more than 1,000 robots traveling more than 2.7 million miles. For more details on the robots, visit the Starship Technologies Website here.