Food Delivery goes Robotic at N.C. A&T

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Charlee Major , Contributor

Lately, small machines on wheels have been driving around, constantly zipping by the student center, Williams, and other places on campus. 

The high tech bots are self-driven and are designed to deliver food to anyone on N.C. A&T’s campus. The company behind this technology is called Starship.

Joe Maloney, the U.S. launch specialist for Starship, was able to give some insight on the company and how the robots operate.

“They deliver campus food to anyone on campus grounds. Anybody can order, not just students,” Maloney said. “They go around campus fully autonomous besides needing operator help for intersections and things like that. They are mapped beforehand; that way they get to know the area, because obviously we wouldn’t want them going over any stairs. Then, we do some testing, which is the phase we are in right now. Our full [N.C. A&T] launch is next week.”

Starship, founded in 2014, describes these robots as, “A revolution in local delivery.”  Although the sole purpose of the Starships robots at N.C. A&T is food delivery, they are also designed to deliver groceries and packages.

The current campus eateries Starship delivers from are Qdoba, 1891 Bistro, and Paavo’s Pizza. Starship has plans to expand restaurant options in the future.

To access Starship, download the app, order from the restaurant of your choice, put in your current location on campus, and it will travel directly to you. The service is also free of delivery fees.

Sophomore food science student Giordanna Bobo, shared her thoughts on the delivery system.

“They’re very cool. It helps prevent COVID and having to stand in long lines. I would definitely use it. I hope it’s sanitary and secure. I wouldn’t want anybody to steal my food.”

According to records, the robots are proven to be safe and secure, as the opening of the cargo remains mechanically locked throughout the whole journey between the restaurant and the customer. It can only be opened by the customer with their app.

NC A&T is not the only university Starship has collaborated with. According to Maloney,  N.C. A&T is the 20th university and the first HBCU where they have launched the service.