Autonomous food delivery robots rolled out at Missouri Science and Technology University

ROLLA, Mo. – Missouri University of Science and Technology has rolled out an autonomous robot food delivery service on campus.

The autonomous bots were created by Estonian company Starship Technologies. The company operates in five countries across the globe and has sent autonomous robots to 30 college campuses in the United States.

Missouri S&T has received 16 of the machines to date.

Customers place delivery orders through the Starship app, and then insert a pin of their current location so the robots can easily find their delivery destination. 

Students and customers can order from several eateries on campus and add their favorite song for the robot to play aloud during its delivery. The robotic delivery machines are insulated for hot or cold food items and are spacious enough to store an entire pizza box, or about three bags of groceries. 

Campus Marketing Specialist Kaleb Thomas told The Heartlander the autonomous bots typically deliver an order in less than 10 minutes, and never take longer than an hour. The units will wait about 10 to 15 minutes for a customer to pick up their order before it heads off to its next delivery.

The Starship robots are 99% autonomous, Thomas said. They travel at no more than 5 mph, can operate on sidewalks, go up curbs and function in inclement weather. If the units run into issues, they will automatically ping human operators to manually take over the delivery. 

Most people assume the robots operate strictly on GPS coordinates, which is a misconception, Thomas says. The robots also feature built-in sensors and high-tech cameras to judge surrounding objects and areas and avoid any collisions or accidents.

“Safety is extremely important to us,” Thomas said. “We continue to operate within close partnership with city councils and local government regulations to make sure everyone is safe and happy.”

The robots are closely monitored and equipped with anti-theft alarms, keeping the food storage boxes locked until customers open it themselves through their Starship app. 

“We hope students find a surprising delight with these robots and they become new campus best friends,” Thomas said. 

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