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Missouri State launches robot delivery with Starship

Missouri State University has launched robot delivery, bringing Starship Technologies to its Springfield campus. Starship is providing a fleet of 20 autonomous robots that will deliver food from several campus eateries.

According to an official university release, Starship Technologies rolled out its robot food delivery service this week, partnering with food-service provider Chartwells Higher Education. MSU is now the first university in Missouri where Starship delivery robots are providing service.

The robots will provide deliveries daily. The initial roster of dining locations participating in the Starship initiative include Einstein Bros. Bagels, Panda Express, Subway, and Market Café 1905.

“I think the robots will be a huge hit on campus,” says Dee Siscoe, Missouri State vice president for student affairs. “Our campus community will be able to receive food and drinks in a fun, fast and innovative new way!”

Missouri State serves more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff, all of whom can use the Starship Food Delivery app to order food and drinks from local retailers. Deliveries can be made anywhere on MSU’s main campus within minutes.

The Starship delivery service will soon add support for the student meal plan so that students can pay for their meal and delivery with dining dollars.

Starship is already providing services to a number of campuses across the country, including the University of Idaho, Oregon State University, the University of Tennessee, Arizona State University, and more.

According to Starship, all partnering campuses have increased the number of robots in their fleets since going live, with some expanding dining options and hours of operation to meet the demand for robot delivery.

To get started, users open the Starship Deliveries app, choose their dining location and order, then drop a pin on a map in the app where they want the delivery to be sent. Users can then follow the robot’s progress as it travels via an interactive map.

Once the robot arrives, students receive an alert to go meet and unlock the robot through the app. Delivery are typically fulfilled in minutes, depending on the items ordered and the distance the robot must travel. Each robot can carry the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods.

“We’re excited to start the new school year by expanding our services to Missouri,” says Chris Neider, director, business development at Starship Technologies. “We think the students will quickly see the advantages of contactless delivery and enjoy having the robots become part of the campus community.”

Starship robots use a combination of 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 the robots’ progress remotely and can take control at a moment’s notice.

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