Robots head to college in fall

Delivery robots targeting college campuses amid uncertain regulatory environment.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer
Starship Technologies

If you (or a family member) is heading to college this fall, you should brace for something unexpected. Robots are coming to college campuses and often to dorm rooms as on-campus delivery takes off.

A leader in the space has been Starship Technologies, which is adding four additional college campuses to its delivery portfolio: University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), University of Kentucky (UK), University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach, FL campus. The company will have a global fleet of over 1000 robots, and it has been shrewd in exploiting relationships with institutions that side-step civic regulatory regimes.

The service has already started with an initial set of merchants and hours at UNR and Embry-Riddle and will be fully operational when students return for classes. Service will begin at the University of Kentucky on August 16 and become fully operational when classes begin a week later. Service is expected to begin at UIC this fall.

"We're excited to welcome such a diverse and exciting roster of schools to our service," said Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Starship Technologies. "We've worked hard to become a trusted and integrated partner on our campus communities, and that hard work has paid off. We are continuing to add new schools every semester, with more to be announced this fall. The students love the robots, and the schools appreciate the ability to offer this service. We can't wait to meet the students at each of these schools and look forward to hiring students on all of the campuses to give them real-world experience working with robots and AI."

Starship broke ground on the coed circuit with George Mason University in Virginia in January 2019. The popularity has increased, with Starship's service now available across nearly 20 different campuses in 15 states. Starship has also adopted a keen advisory role, helping ensure laws are in place for the safe operation of personal delivery devices. Robots may now perform deliveries in more than 50% of US states. 

"We see the Starship robots as an important part of safely bringing students back to campus," said Dean Kennedy, executive director of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services at the University of Nevada, Reno. "Everyone wants to resume in-person classes and be back on campus, so we're doing everything we can to make sure it's done responsibly. The robots offer several advantages -- they make social distancing easier, they are convenient, the students we have spoken with love this idea, and they continue our heritage of being an innovative campus." 

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