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Cornell considers campus delivery robots

Andrew Hudson   ||   May 01, 2019  ||   ,

One of the more "sci-fi" innovations to arrive on college campuses recently are autonomous delivery robots. With a few universities now deploying fleets of the small, un-manned delivery units, this seemingly niche service could be gaining a little more traction.

The latest university that's considering delivery robots is Cornell University with an implementation of the Kiwibot system. As reported by The Cornell Sun, the small, rectangular robots have been rolling around campus in recent weeks as part of a trial run. Cornell would be the second university, after the University of California, Berkeley, to deploy the Kiwibot.

The autonomous robots currently on Cornell's campus aren't actually delivering food yet, but are instead testing student reactions as the units roll around campus. This trial phase is designed to gauge student feedback, as well as enable the robots to map campus navigation, making sure there are feasible travel routes from one end of campus to another.

There still remain concerns down the line about the weather in Ithaca, where Cornell is located. To date, the Kiwibots have exclusively been implemented in California and haven't been thoroughly tested in extreme cold or snow.

The Kiwibots are semi-autonomous with remote, human monitoring in place to keep track of the robots along their delivery routes. Further plans for a deployment at Cornell would like to integrate Cornell Dining as part of the initiative to enable students to order food via the Kiwi app and for Kiwibots to pick up and deliver from university-managed food locations.

Those planning talks haven't taken place yet, but any Kiwibot deployment at Cornell will involve the appropriate university departments. Those in charge of the Kiwibot initiative at Cornell expect discussions with the university to be a lengthy process, pushing back a full launch of Kiwibot to sometime after fall 2019.

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