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People Are Weirdly Captivated By University of Houston’s Food Delivery Robots

A TikTok video of the snack-delivering bots went viral on social media

The Starship autonomous delivery robot on the University of Houston campus
The Starship autonomous delivery robot
Photo: University of Houston
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

About a week after the University of Houston announced that it would launch a new food delivery service that employs robots to cart snacks across campus, video of the Starship delivery fleet has gone viral on social media.

A video posted to TikTok by user Blake Messick that depicts the robots roaming all over the U of H campus soundtracked with the X Files theme has racked up more than 947,000 views on that platform, along with another half a million views on Twitter. More videos of the robots immediately followed that post, including one that compares the short, rectangular robots to the Disney character Wall-E.

Scope out the video below:

There’s also a petition circulating around that encourages the University to install “swangas,” or vintage wire Cadillac wheels with pointy “elbows,” on the robots “in order to properly include them in Houston culture.” “The way we could welcome these robots to their new home and make them true Houstonians would be to include them in our car culture as well, by giving them elbows like the ones seen in the Slabs that are central to Houston’s car scene,” the petition’s description reads. At present, nearly 100 people have signed the petition.

A “rendering” of the Starship robots with swangas

At least 30 of the machines, developed in partnership with Chartwells Higher Education, went operational on the University of Houston campus last week, delivering groceries and late-night eats from restaurants like Panda Express, Cougar Village Market, and Starbucks.