You may have seen some little white robots zooming around campus in recent weeks. These autonomous Personal Delivery Devices (PDDs) are part of a new partnership with Starship Technologies and University of Utah Dining Services to deliver food to buildings all over campus.
Right now, there are 8 robots on “upper campus,” east of Mario Capecchi Drive, and 8 on “lower campus” as part of a soft launch of the program. The plan is to have 50 robots in time for a major launch at the start of the fall 2022 semester.
“Robot food delivery has been successfully deployed at several universities across the country and we’re excited to see them on the University of Utah campus,” said Jerry Basford, associate vice president of finance & operations for Student Affairs. “The robots make delivery convenient and affordable, and use less energy than most delivery options.”
The robots are electrically-powered and emit zero CO2. Each day of service, the robots position themselves at a Dining Services location. Customers order and pay for food delivery through the Starship Food Delivery App and the order is prepared and placed in the robot for delivery to an outdoor pin drop provided by the customer. The lid is locked and can only be opened using the customer’s code that is exclusive to that order.
Starship’s PDDs have a maximum speed of 4 mph and yields to pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles. Each PPD operates autonomously, but a remote operator can monitor the robots and help with unexpected situations such as construction or difficult road crossings if needed.
Learn more about how the robot delivery works here.