Bridgewater State University was one of the first institutions in the northeast region to deploy autonomous robot delivery from Starship Technologies, offering students and faculty a valuable dining alternative. Now, the university is plotting to expand its fleet of delivery robots following early successes on campus.
According to an Enterprise News report, Bridgewater State was a pioneer in the region after first deploying its fleet of Starship delivery robots in early 2019. BSU was also just the 13th university in the country to partner with Starship.
The university currently boasts a fleet of 15 robots but will increase that to 25 in the fall as the number of students living on campus is expected to return to full capacity. BSU is currently operating at just 41% capacity due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the smaller on-campus population, Bridgewater's Starship robots have still fulfilled an average of 150-170 deliveries per day, with significant peak times around lunch and dinner.
Delivery robots have been one of the measures campuses have turned to amid ongoing food safety precautions associated with COVID-19.
With this in mind, Starship operators and Bridgewater Dining team members clean the robots before and after each delivery, with an emphasis on high-touch areas. Moreover, all persons touching the robots are required to wear gloves.
At the end of every evening the robots undergo additional cleaning protocols, including a thorough cleaning of the lid handle and a careful cleaning of the thermal bags in the robot's chassis.
In the event a student forgets to pick up their order, an operator will meet the robot, remove the food, and wipe it down to prepare it for the next order. Each robot can only deliver one user's order at a time, which also decreases handling of the robots.
Bridgewater State's Starship fleet currently delivers most food and drink items available from the Bear’s Den or Crimson Café -- both university-run BSU dining locations -- as well as Starbucks orders.
To leverage the robot delivery service, users simply download the Starship app, select their campus and search available restaurants. After placing a food order, the app presents a map of campus, including area limitations where the robots cannot go. Users then a drop a pin on the desired delivery location.