OXFORD, Miss. – As University of Mississippi students resume classes for the spring semester, they are sharing the campus' sidewalks with a fleet of robots that can deliver meals at the push of a button.
Starship Technologies, the world's leading autonomous delivery service, has launched robot food delivery services at the university, the first in the Southeastern Conference to have autonomous delivery robots.
Beginning today (Jan. 22), Ole Miss students, faculty and staff can access the Starship Deliveries app (iOS and Android) to order food and drinks to be delivered anywhere on campus, within minutes from any of the 30 robots serving UM. The service will work in conjunction with student meal plans.
"Ole Miss Dining is focused on the continued utilization of advanced technology to enrich the student, faculty and staff dining experience," said Chip Burr, resident district manager of Ole Miss Dining Services. "We are excited about the expansion of our mobile ordering operation and the new opportunities this partnership creates."
By making food and drink more accessible, the Starship robots save time and reduce stress, aiming to make the busy lives of the Ole Miss community a little easier, Burr said.
Items can be ordered from Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, McAlister's, Panda Express, Which Wich, Qdoba, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Raising Cane's, Steak 'n Shake, Freshii, Papa John's and Sambazon. After choosing their items, users select their location by dropping a pin on the campus map where they want their food delivered.
The app allows users to watch the robot's journey in real time through an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, the user will receive an alert and can meet the robot and unlock it through the app.
The delivery usually takes just minutes, depending on the menu items ordered and the distance the robot must travel. The robots can carry up to 20 pounds.
Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its robots have traveled more than 350,000 miles and completed some 100,000 autonomous 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. They can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow.
A team of humans also can monitor their progress remotely and take control if needed.
"We're honored to be able to help make lives a little bit easier for Rebels across the Ole Miss campus by offering the world's leading autonomous delivery service" said Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president of business development at Starship. "Whether it's getting breakfast delivered in the morning or having a late-night snack, our robots are here to serve students, faculty and staff at all times of the day."