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Robots now deliver pizza, donuts and coffee at George Mason University



ABC7 and The Associated Press

A Starship robot will arrive at the George Mason University campus in Fairfax, Virginia on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. A fleet of high-tech robots is now being used in northern Virginia University to fulfill the noble purpose of delivering pizzas, donuts and coffee on demand to students who call them. (AP Photo / Matthew Barakat)

A fleet of high-tech robots was deployed at a university in Virginia (Virginia) to punctually deliver pizza, donuts and coffee to students

More than 25 knee-high, radiator-shaped robots began delivery on Tuesday at George Mason University in Fairfax.

Ryan Tuohy, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Starship Technologies, San Francisco, USA, manufactures the robots, saying that hundreds of delivery orders have been abandoned on the first day of service.

"You can watch the robot as it approaches your phone," said Ryan Tuohy of Starship Technologies, the company that made the robots. "It alerts you when it's there, and then you can unlock it only from the smartphone you used to order it."

The Company's Partnership with Sodexo, which runs George Mason's catering contract. This means that students can receive supplies from Blaze Pizza, Starbucks and Dunkin for $ 1.99. A convenience store is also in attendance and it is expected that more vendors will join the program later.

The six-wheeled robots can climb curbs and take up to 9 kg of cargo.

The robots drew smiles and confused looks from students who lunched on campus Wednesday lunching to take pictures.

Justin Plassmeyer, a senior computer science major, received a pizza delivery Wednesday while his friends watched and took pictures. It took the robot about eight minutes to make a shipment that would have made a person who had walked briskly. The robots are slowed down by the need to use ramps instead of stairs.

ABC7 followed a robot as he made a pizza delivery at the other end of the campus. The receptionists said the pizza was still very warm when they arrived, and they were glad they did not have to make the more than half a mile hike to buy it themselves.

The robots do not go into buildings, but will do deliver outside a building on campus.

"It's not the fastest in the world," said Plassmeyer. "If you're really hungry, it's probably quicker to go and get your own food, but if you're just a bit hungry, it's perfect," he said. He also said he appreciated the novelty of being able to bring "a little robot."

Tuohy said college campuses are an ideal place for Starship robots: college students are interested in technology and innovation, and campus grounds are generally pedestrian-friendly. The robots can not go up and down stairs, but the campus seats must be wheelchair accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Tuohy said, "So there's going to be a ramp up somewhere."

The robots learn the fastest ways to navigate the campus, and will eventually learn to avoid heavy pedestrian routes that are willing to travel a long distance if they can save time by traveling faster on a less traveled path move.

The robots are "overly defensive" "and will stop when they spot pedestrians to avoid collisions," Tuohy said.

Starship says the rollout is the largest implementation of autonomous robotic services on a college campus. A similar service was established earlier this month by another technology company at the University of Pacific in Stockton, California.


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