By: Lexi Schweinert (Reporter) and Meggie Armstrong (Photojournalist)
They’ve been causing a frenzy on campus. Small, automated robots whirring about while students gawk curiously at them on their way to class.
What is their purpose? Are we being invaded by a high-tech planet?
“I saw them gathering around Dejope, I was like are they for food delivery? I really wasn’t sure what they were for,” said UW freshman Eric Cardwell.
The robots are actually delivering food to students on campus. UW-Madison’s dining services partnered with Starship Technologies to bring 30 robots to campus.
“Delivery is a service that students have been requesting for quite some time, with companies like GrubHub and EatStreet that have been around for some time. It’s a service students come to us expecting and with their busy lives it’s something that fits into their convenience needs,” said Director of UW Dining Peter Testory.
Students can order from three choices on the Starship Technologies app- Carson’s Market, Four Lakes Market, or Liz’s Market and just pay $1.99 for delivery. They can track the robot on the app throughout the process.
“The robot will drive to the area to pick up the food then the picker will come outside, open the robot, place the food inside, close the lid and then the robot starts rolling,” said Starship Technologies Launch Director Markus Zimmermann.
The robots currently deliver to the lakeshore side of campus, but the company plans to expand that in the future. Some may think this high-tech service could take jobs away from students when it actually does the opposite.
“We’re not reducing any staff, we’re actually adding in a new student position, it really frees up the full-time staff we have to do more meaningful work,” said Testory.
And as we know it snows a lot in Wisconsin, the robots are rain and snow-proof. You can see them rolling around campus throughout the winter.
For the Badger Report, I’m Lexi Schweinert.