Grubhub, Starship deploy delivery bots across 5 college campuses

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Dive Brief:

  • Grubhub and Starship Technologies have partnered to provide autonomous food delivery across five U.S. college campuses, the companies announced Tuesday. More universities will deploy bots later this year, according to a press release
  • Delivery is currently available to over 170,000 students across the University of Kentucky; the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Wayne State University; Southern Methodist University and Fairfield University. 
  • Grubhub also partnered with robot delivery provider Cartken, which is servicing Ohio State University, in June after cutting ties with Russia-based delivery bot firm Yandex

Dive Insight:

This latest partnership expands Grubhub’s college delivery offerings. The aggregator partners with over 250 U.S. college campuses, where students can integrate their meal plans with Grubhub accounts and access restaurants on- and off-campus for delivery or pickup. 

Colleges that already partner with Grubhub can choose to deploy robots if they would like, Grubhub wrote in an email. Those institutions can reach out to their client success manager and tell them they are interested in this type of delivery. The campus partnership team will continue the conversation and help set up the service.

Starship has already been tested and deployed across more than two dozen American college campuses and has a fleet of 2,000 robots globally. Grubhub won’t be working with Starship on these campuses, the company said. The robots can travel 4 mph, have the capacity to hold up to three bags of groceries and can operate in various weather conditions, according to the press release. Starship is also well-funded, most recently securing nearly $100 million in capital as of March. 

“Robot delivery solves the unique challenges of accessing hard-to-reach areas that come from operating on a college campus,” Adam Herbert, Grubhub’s senior director of campus partnerships, said in the press release. 

Autonomous robots can also trim delivery times and costs, according to The Food Institute. With students typically living within 30 minutes of campus, colleges also have the opportunity to consolidate restaurants to a main production facility, and deploy bots from there. 

Other companies have been looking into using food delivery bots to expand food offerings at colleges, as well. Sodexo signed a $20 million contract with Kiwibot to deploy more than 1,200 bots across 50 U.S. campuses through the end of this year.

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