Robots Begin Delivering Food on Campus

Pam Stanley, interim director of food and retail service for Auxiliary Services, was recently interviewed about the new robots that have started delivering food on campus.


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Delivery Robot

Haywood McNeill (Interviewer): How does this new service work?

Pam Stanley: Students, staff and faculty can download the app (Apple® / Android™) by searching for “Starship Deliveries,” or from the website: Once you download the app, you can choose from multiple retail outlets, drop a pin on a map for delivery, enter payment details and track the robot on its way to your location. The service is environmentally friendly, using battery power, and is very convenient. We want to make life a little bit easier for students on campus, especially around exam time. Our robots can bring food, drinks and snacks at the time and place of your choosing, to help save you time when you need it most. The robots are provided free to the University in partnership with UT Dallas Dining (Chartwells).

Delivery Robot

HM: What do you anticipate the demand will be for this service?

PS: The demand for delivery seems very high.

HM: How much does this service cost the customer per delivery?

PS: $1.99.

Delivery Robot

HM: Can a delivery robot bring me pizza from Papa Johns, a smoothie from Smoothie King and a bagel and smear from Einstein Bros?

PS: We will offer food and drinks from all those retail outlets, however, you can’t order them all at the same time. In order for a short delivery time and accurate ETA [Estimated Time of Arrival] , you can order from one retail outlet per delivery. The robots are constantly understanding the world around them and where the demand is coming from, and will move between different retail outlets after completing their deliveries to pick up the next order.

HM: Which dining venues are participating?

PS: Right now we have Panda Express, Smoothie King, Smash’d, The Pub, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Papa John’s, Halal Shack, Firehouse Subs, The Market SU [Student Union] and The Market DHW [Dining Hall West] . We’re hoping to add many more to the Starship Deliveries app.

HM: Can delivery robots be dispatched to Northside?

PS: Yes, the service is available to Northside residents, as well as SPN and SP2.

Delivery Robot

HM: What’s the range and top speed for the robots?

PS: The robots are optimized to travel between 2-3 miles for the best delivery times, however their batteries last all day, so they can travel as far as we need. The top speed of these robots is 4 mph [miles per hour] , walking speed.

HM: I was impressed yesterday watching a delivery robot use the crosswalk to cross the street. Can they sense vehicles?

PS: Each robot has sophisticated obstacle detection. It’s like a bubble of awareness around the robot. The robots have safely crossed 5,000,000 roads, completed over 100,000 deliveries and traveled more than 350,000 miles. The robots use machine learning, computer vision, radar, ultrasonic sensors, time-of-flight cameras and more to know their location to the nearest inch at all times.

HM: How many work around campus?

PS: We have a fleet of 30 robots at UTD to start.

Dining Services strives to deliver an excellent dining experience to students, faculty, staff and campus visitors on a daily basis. Their locations offer friendly service and a wide variety of quality food options available at your convenience.


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