Dozens of cooler-like robots on wheels have begun rolling around Northern Arizona University’s main campus in Flagstaff to deliver meals from Einstein Bros. Bagels, Cobrizo Mexican Grill and other retailers to hundreds of students a day.
San Francisco Bay Area startup Starship Technologies’ launch of the robotic delivery service Monday at NAU follows the beginning of a similar service two months ago at George Mason University in Virginia, the Arizona Daily Sun reported on Wednesday.
“There’s a lot of students who were not eating breakfast who are now eating breakfast,” said Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president for business development at Starship Technologies. “That was one of the big findings at George Mason University.”
The 50-pound (23-kilogram) autonomous bots, which can travel up to 4 mph (6.4 kph), are part of an ongoing partnership between Starship and food provider Sodexo.
The list of restaurants will expand as early as next week with south campus spots Qdoba, The Coupe and possibly Subway being incorporated into the app’s options.
The bots are the brainchild of Starship Technologies, whose founders — Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis — co-founded Skype.
Starship Technologies, a private company, declined to give the cost of an individual delivery bot.
NAU’s fleet of 30 robots comes just shy of a year after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation authorizing the robots — officially known as personal delivery devices — on sidewalks.
The permission to use Arizona sidewalks will expire in September of 2020 unless lawmakers renew the mandate.