Robots delivering food on SDSU campus

Local News

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — Students at South Dakota State University may find themselves sharing the campus sidewalks with robots from time to time.

On Monday, the university announced the rollout of its fleet of delivery robots from Starship Technologies.

SDSU student Joshua Flatten ordered a burger and fries, and the machine on wheels delivered to him on a nearby sidewalk.

“It was really quick. I was like, ‘This is going to take forever,’ and it took like ten minutes,” SDSU student Joshua Flatten said.

Students and staff order the food using a Starship app.

For now, the robots are transporting food and drink orders from a coffee shop and two restaurants on campus.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is some answers to the labor shortage we’ve experienced with our food service sites,” SDSU associate VP of student affairs Doug Wermedal said.

The robots are also delivering employment opportunities to students who are in charge of supervising them.

“The chance to send our robotics students out or students with computer and engineering majors with this kind of experience of supervising an autonomous delivery system, that’s going to be an exciting qualification for those students,” Wermedal said.

There are currently 16 of these robots on South Dakota State University’s campus, and 16 more are on the way.

“I just feel like this is the fresh foot in the door to something that’s going to continue growing and something that’s going to be normalized in the next 2-3 years. This is the future,” Starship Technologies site launch specialist Fausto Lopez said.

And it’s full speed ahead into the future at SDSU.

The robots have several obstacle detectors on them to prevent them from hitting people and things.

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