The release of the Starship delivery robots on March 8 on the University of Tennessee campus has provided students with a new way to order food. Campus pedestrians and drivers are getting used to seeing the little white boxes trundle along.
The robots are meant to give students on demand delivery access to restaurants across campus, providing student with an alternative to going to a restaurant. Reviews for the service seem to be mostly positive, with just a few caveats.
For students like senior Dennis Ross, the robots have proved a necessity.
“I injured my ankle basically right before they were added to campus, so I wasn’t able to walk very easily so they’ve been a lifesaver for me,” he said.
The accessibility of the service seems to be one of the biggest pluses in the eyes of students. The app allows the customer to tell the robots where to delivery the food, saving customers time, as well as providing a more convenient way for people with injures to get their food.
But other students have noticed some improvements that could be made with the service.
Many pedestrians on campus, including Jenna Cheatham, a junior at UTK, have noticed the little white machines look pretty cautious as they roll.
“I’ve noticed crossing the road seems to be problematic and very time consuming for them. I’m wondering if this has affected how quickly people receive their deliveries, also they do not deliver to Vol Hall nor Laurel Hall,” Cheatham said.
The robots might still be getting used to things, but so have food-service workers. Like any new technology, there have been some glitches.
“There are constantly food/drinks left in the bots to where we can’t send out an order, or there’s no bots to actually load the order into. But other than that, they aren’t too bad, just that we have to assign someone to do the orders each time, so it’s a bit of a hassle,” one worker said.
The company providing the robots, Starship Technologies, was founded in 2014 by the co-founders of Skype, according to the company’s website. Since its founding, the delivery service has spread to 27 college campuses and handles deliveries in different cities around the world.
The service makes their money through a delivery and service fee that the customers pay. The delivery fee currently is $1.99, and the service fee increases as the price of your order increases.
Overall, it seems that the robots have been successful in providing easier delivery options to students, and time will tell if the some of the kinks will be worked out.