Food service provider, Sodexo is partnering with robot delivery startup, Kiwibot, to deploy the tech company's autonomous robots on college campuses. The partnership has already seen Kiwibots deployed for on-campus delivery at New Mexico State University, Loyola Marymount University and Gonzaga University.
According to a report from TechCrunch, the partnership will enable students to use their meal plans for Kiwibot delivery through the Sodexo Bite+ app. Those without a meal plan can pay à la carte, including $2 delivery fee plus 10% of the order amount.
Kiwibots were developed at the University of California, Berkeley where the company was able to process some 150,000 robot deliveries. That proving ground laid the framework for initial expansions to the University of Denver and Stanford University.
The partnership has ground to make up in the robot delivery market, with Starship Technologies -- who eclipsed one million robot deliveries this past January -- and Grubhub's partnership with Yandex now leading the charge in the campus space.
“We’re starting with ten robots at Loyola, ten robots at Gonzaga and 30 robots at New Mexico State, and that’s just the beginning,” says Diego Varela Prada, chief operating officer at Kiwibot. “We’re hoping to have many more. As a B2B business, we’re able to work very closely with our partner to increase the capacity of the bots as demand ramps up.”
The robots feature what Kiwibot calls "corner-to-corner" technology that can capture data around an indoor space and feeds that into an algorithm that helps make decisions for the robot, explains Prada. “It handles the navigation for the robot in between high complexity situations, like cars, people, pets, little kids, people that work on campus."
"So we are not in a position yet to let the bot go on the campus on its own," Prada adds. "Our remote operators have a feature where they switch to corner-to-corner and if the bot senses, for example, a street pass, then the remote operator or supervisor will take over.”
Future iterations for the Kiwibot include plans to navigate indoor-to-outdoor and outdoor-to-indoor delivery routes. This would enable order pick up straight from the kitchen, navigate outside to deliver it and then navigate inside another building to deliver to the user.