Food Delivery Robots Are Coming to College Students
Mon, April 19, 2021

Food Delivery Robots Are Coming to College Students

6E24 delivers food to students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison / Photo Credit: Zapp2Photo (via Shutterstock)

 

A robot called 6E24 showed up outside Dejope Residence Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and parked, waiting for a human to interact with it, reported Devi Shastri of USA Today, an internationally distributed American newspaper. The little white robot greeted the human with a “Hello! Here’s your delivery.” With a push of a bottom from the man’s mobile phone, the 6E24 received a signal saying that this was the man it was sent to rendezvous with.  

“Thank you. Have a nice day,” the robot told its customer, Markus Zimmermann, before leaving. 6E24 was one of 30 robots brought to the university in November, ushering a new era of convenience for students who do not like to queue in line for a meal. And like everyone else, the robots are also a source for entertaining internet memes. 

Zimmermann, together with a team of five employees from San Francisco-based tech firm Starship Technologies, also arrived with the robots. They are the ones who will acclimate the university to technology and the technology to the university. Zimmermann said, “We give (students) the gift of time and they can spend it doing whatever else they want to pursue." According to him, the team has received notes in the robots saying, “Hello robot!” and “We love you!” 

Freshman engineering student Sam Tobin noted, “It's kind of a strange, almost dystopian feeling seeing them around on campus.” He added that the way the robots move is human-like. There were a couple of intoxicated students at bus stop who saw a Starship robot trying to cross the street. The students went wild, cheering and hollering at the robot when it finally mustered enough courage to cross the street, Tobin added. 

Students can order their meals from one of three food halls via Starship’s app. Students will just send the cost of the meal, including a $1.99 delivery fee to the company and it will dispatch a robot to deliver their food. Students can track their orders on their phone and the robot will be unlocked from the app once their meal arrives.  

Autonomous robots may sound more futuristic, but students have “often expressed their desire for a delivery option” from the school’s food service, UW-Madison Director of Dining and Culinary Services Peter Testory said.