Starship Technologies, a company that deploys self-driving robots, will expand and deliver everything from Starbucks to pizzas — but not booze — to college students all around the country, through partnerships with food companies Sodexo and Compass Group, according to a report by CNBC.
The latest campuses that will get the delivery robots are Purdue University, University of Pittsburgh, George Mason University and Northern Arizona University. Indiana University will see them in September.
Students can use the Starship app for 24/7 deliveries, and can also use a meal card if items they’re ordering are covered in the plan. Delivery fees typically run between $1 and $2, and the items generally arrive within 30 minutes.
Starship Technologies CEO Lex Bayer said the robots will be in about 100 campuses by 2021. Starship has raised about $40 million to aid in the expansion, and it’s raised a total of $85 million so far.
Bayer said the delivery robots are ideally suited for college campuses, where there are often narrow passages and places where cars aren’t allowed to go, or cannot even fit. He also said the vehicles are good for the local economy, as they’ll help stores in the area.
“Why buy a wrench online from an eCommerce site that will get there two days later when you can buy it from a local hardware store and have it in half an hour?” Bayer said.
Regulations for the autonomous robots, unlike self-driving cars and drones, has come relatively easily. They’re not as heavy and they’re smaller and slower, which means they’re not as dangerous or likely to cause damage or death.
There are currently nine states that allow the robots, Bayer said, which will give the company a reach of around 100 million people.
The company delivers mostly food, groceries and retail items, but Bayer said he eventually wants to deliver pharmaceuticals as well. The company recently completed its 100,000th delivery.