The University of Houston’s 53,000 students can now hit a button on a phone app, and a robot will greet them carrying Panda Express. That’s the plan for UH’s new fleet of 30 Starship autonomous delivery robots, which will roam the campus delivering snacks and groceries to students, faculty, and staff.
This Starship robot program is in partnership with Chartwells Higher Education, and UH is said to be the first institution of higher education in Texas to offer robotic food deliveries on campus.
“This revolutionary delivery method will make it more convenient for the campus community to take advantage of our diverse dining program from anywhere on campus while expanding the hours of operation,” Emily Messa, UH associate vice president for administration, said in a press release. “By opening our campus to this innovative service, which is paid for by the customers, the university didn’t have to spend any money purchasing the technology, yet we’re enhancing our food delivery capabilities.”
There’s a $1.99 delivery fee to have robots deliver food from campus spots like Drexler’s, Starbucks, Einstein Brothers Bagels, Panda Express and Cougar Village Market. Customers can track the robots’ journey as they traverse sidewalks and maneuver around obstacles.
Houston’s been a hotspot for rolling out high-tech and experimental food delivery systems: Midtown’s new Whole Foods Market installed a robotic barista, salad station robots are headed to Texas Medical Center and beyond, and Domino’s Pizza announced this year that it will launch driverless delivery in Houston.