Food services company Sodexo has signed up major chains as customers of a new automated delivery service on a US university campus.
Built in collaboration with autonomous delivery specialist Starship Technologies, the service will allow the 40,000 students and staff at the Fairfax campus of George Mason University to order food and drinks to be delivered anywhere on the site within minutes.
Starbucks and Dunkin’ are amongst the launch partners for the service, with other retailers set to be announced later.
Customers choose their food option through the Starship Deliveries smartphone application and then place a pin where they want the delivery to be sent. The order is then carried by one of a fleet of 25 robots, which the customer unlocks with their smartphone.
The companies will charge $1.99 per on-demand delivery, which they claim will usually take 15 minutes or less.
Jim Jenkins, CEO of universities east at Sodexo North America said the service was an effort to meet the “elevated expectations” of the current generation of university students.
He named “better quality, variety and service delivery” as some of these expectations.
Ryan Tuohy, SVP, Business Development, Starship Technologies, said: “College students understand the benefits of technology on campus and expect it to be integrated into their daily lives. With the hectic schedules students lead, there is a convenience for students to have their food, groceries and packages delivered.
“Our goal is to make life a little bit easier for students, whether that means skipping the line, eating lunch on the lawn rather than in the cafe, or finding the time to eat better when studying for exams. Commuter students can even meet the robot on their way into class.”
Starship has also previously launched an autonomous package delivery service in the UK city of Milton Keynes.