Ole Miss launches food, drink delivery bots

Ole Miss launches food, drink delivery bots

OXFORD, Miss. (WMC) - Robots are taking over the Ole Miss campus -- lunch, that is.

“These are delivery robots built by Starship Technologies and they can deliver anything from food to groceries to packages,” said Sandra Sooläte, Starship Business Development Manager.

Currently only set up as food delivery robots, these six-wheeled, completely autonomous vehicles began delivering meals Wednesday and have been busy scurrying around campus ever since.

“It’s something new for everybody to try out, and hopefully everybody will enjoy it,” Sooläte said.

A food service employee puts the food inside the robot that’s outfitted with insulated bags, and the robot is off. With 10 cameras around the outside, the robot automatically stops for people, cars and at crosswalks until it’s clear to move.

“We use obstacle detection so there’s multiple sensors around the shell which basically create this bubble of awareness,” Sooläte said. “So when somebody is trying to jump in front of it have a little bit of fun or any other situation when the robot needs to stop it will do so.”

Moving at an average speed of four miles per hour, the Starship Robot locks its cargo as it delivers to your location anywhere on campus that you set with in a mobile app. And it talks too.

“Hello, I am a Starship delivery robot," it says.

“It’s only the customer who can actually control the robot when the food arrives,” Sooläte said. “But there’s just a button that says unlock. You basically unlock the lid then, take out your food, close the lid and off it goes again.”

The robots are seemingly everywhere, with a total of 30 robots on campus. They’re so busy, they sometimes create their own autonomous traffic jam.

Starship says the robots deliver the food in 10 to 15 minutes, and winter weather isn’t a problem.

“These robots are actually built back in Estonia where it’s very cold and there’s lots of snow, so in terms of getting by with hard weather, there’s no issues whatsoever,” Sooläte said.

Ole Miss is one of less than 10 campuses in the US that has the starship robots. Starship Technologies has plans to expand to 100 campuses in the coming years.

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