Robots at Your Service

Cute little machines now deliver food on campus.

Food-delivering robot on the UW–Madison campus

The contraptions use artificial intelligence and sensors to cross streets and avoid obstacles. Bryce Richter

Food delivery at UW–Madison just got a lot more adorable. University Housing Dining and Culinary Services has deputized a fleet of 30 cute robots to deliver food orders throughout campus. Giving R2-D2 a run for his money, the squat, white vehicles roll along sidewalks on six wheels, with an orange flag announcing their presence to bemused passersby.

The UW has contracted with Starship Technologies to become the largest U.S. college campus to offer “autonomous delivery.” Students, faculty, and staff can use an app to place orders from campus dining halls and unlock the food-storage chamber when the trusty robot arrives.

The contraptions are electrically powered, using artificial intelligence and sensors to cross streets and avoid obstacles. And happily, there’s no need to worry about these robots running amok. A team of humans can monitor the fleet and take control before the machines get too autonomous for their own good.

Published in the Spring 2020 issue

Tags: Food, Student life, technology

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