The University of South Carolina, in partnership with Grubhub and Starship Technologies, has announced autonomous food delivery – with robots. 

Through the Grubhub app, students and staff can access on-demand robots for food delivery. The campus community will be able to choose from 11 different dining options. 

Rob DelaCruz, vice president and general manager of Grubhub Campus, says, “This type of delivery is a perfect fit for campus environments to provide scalable and cost-effective food delivery solutions to students. We’ve seen that students love the convenience and repeatedly choose this fun, new way to get their meals delivered right to their door.”

Convenient autonomous delivery 

Starship Technologies was founded by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis in 2014 and operates in 60 locations worldwide. The company’s first robot prototype was created in 2014. It operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. The company’s robots make over 150,000 road crossings every day. These robots have completed over five million commercial deliveries worldwide. 

The company celebrates five years of robot food deliveries at George Mason University. 

Chris Neider, vice president of business development at Starship Technologies, says, “It’s extra special each time we launch service in a new state, and we’re really excited to introduce the USC campus to our little robots and the convenience of autonomous delivery.”

Also read: Pudu Robotics spearheads AI era with robots for retail and restaurants

Challenges with autonomous robots 

In October 2023, Locate2uNews reported on robots, drones, and other technology tools struggling to find one thing – a fast internet connection. 

A computer engineer at Virginia Tech, Harpreet Dhillon, says autonomous vehicles and robots have to deal with a range of visual data to allow these latest technology tools to operate reliably. A home appliance Haier Smart Home, says to deal with weak signals, the company has to go to site with antennas – and this is to assist its Wi-Fi for better connectivity. Even installing the internet outside the actual distribution is being done in some places. 

Drone delivery to customers 

It’s not just autonomous robots making life easier; drones are making an impact, too. 

Here’s a scenario: Your 80-year-old grandparent orders food delivery by phone, but you decide to access your local retailer who delivers to your doorstep. Your grandparents’ food delivery may have gone cold, but your burger is fresh – and still warm. Consumers are choosing drone delivery for a good reason – convenience.

This is illustrated by retail company Walmart’s decision to expand its drone delivery service in Texas, USA.   

Fleet management 

There are several reasons drones are being used for delivery. The standout has to be the speed of delivery. Drones fly above ground and are not restricted by traffic. Another factor is deliveries will not be hampered by the issue of labor shortages, and they may be in flight during a lunch hour when a person has to take breaks – the drone does not. 

Drones are cost-effective. Imagine a courier fleet’s fuel bill at the end of each month. The drone does not travel on roads, so there is less wear and tear on the drone than a vehicle that may be stranded at a service center for a particular problem. Vehicle repairs can be costly. In addition, drones do not emit toxic fumes. Drones can travel above rough terrain and provide an aerial route straight to the delivery point.

About the author

Sharl is a qualified journalist. He has over 10 years’ experience in the media industry, including positions as an editor of a magazine and Business Editor of a daily newspaper. Sharl also has experience in logistics specifically operations, where he worked with global food aid organisations distributing food into Africa. Sharl enjoys writing business stories and human interest pieces.