Purdue University Welcomes Delivery Robots


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Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus is now sharing its 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 Purdue, the first college in the Big Ten Conference to do so.

Beginning today, Purdue’s 43,000 students, along with 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. Local retailers will participate and will be announced in coming weeks.

More than 30 robots have been launched at Purdue, which is now the largest university campus in the world to have partnered with Starship to offer autonomous delivery. The service works in conjunction with student meal plans, costing $1.99 per delivery. By making food and drink more accessible, Starship saves time and reduces stress, aiming to make the busy lives of the Boilermaker community a little easier. A YouTube video is available below.

“We’re excited to see this technology launch on Purdue’s campus,” said Beth McCuskey, vice provost for student life. “Food delivery apps are becoming increasingly popular with college students, and these robots will take Purdue’s dining program to the next level. This service adds more options and flexibility for our campus diners.”

To use the service, users open the Starship Deliveries app, choose from a range of their favorite food or drink items, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can then watch in real time as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert and can then meet and unlock it through the app. The delivery usually takes just a matter of minutes, depending on the menu items ordered and the distance the robot must travel. Each robot can carry up to 20 pounds—the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods.

Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its robots have traveled over 350,000 miles, crossed 4 million streets and completed over 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. The robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow. A team of humans can also monitor their progress remotely and can take control at a moment’s notice if required.

“We’re proud to be launching our service at a university that is steeped in history and has so many inspiring, aspirational and world-changing alumni,” said Ryan Tuohy, SVP Business Development at Starship. “The students of Purdue are our future leaders and visionaries, so we’re honored to be able to help make their lives a little bit easier by offering the world’s leading autonomous delivery service on campus.”

In addition to university campuses, Starship also delivers groceries and packages in local neighborhoods and a range of items on corporate campuses around the globe. The company has also played a role in helping to bring legislation allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks across nine U.S. states, the District of Columbia and several countries. 

About Starship Technologies

Starship Technologies is revolutionizing deliveries with autonomous robots. They are designed to deliver food, groceries, and packages locally in minutes. The delivery robots have traveled tens of thousands of miles and met millions of people across 100 cities around the world. They drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take control at any time. Starship was founded by two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. Former AirBnB executive Lex Bayer is CEO.

About Purdue University

Purdue University, a top public research institution, offers higher education at its highest proven value. Committed to affordability, the University has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels. Committed to student success, Purdue is changing the student experience with greater focus on faculty-student interaction and creative use of technology. Committed to pursuing scientific discoveries and engineered solutions, Purdue has streamlined pathways for faculty and student innovators who have a vision for moving the world forward.

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