Food robot program expands for quicker delivery times

The Lantern
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After a semester in use, more food robots will drive across campus to deliver food with the university planning to expand 100 overtime. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

After a semester in use, more food robots will arrive on campus to deliver food.

University spokesperson Dave Isaacs said in an email there are currently 50 robots and the university will soon plan to increase that number to 100.

“We are very interested in expanding the program, but we are also looking to scale up slowly and deliberately, allowing us to learn about usage in a systematic way,” Isaacs said.

Brandon Thompson, a student manager at Curl Market, said he feels improvements can be made to the food robot program.

“I think overall the robots can be a hassle but is a step in the right direction to better convenience students,” Thompson, a third-year in biology, said.

Relying on the robots instead of employees for food delivery has been convenient, but the robots seemingly do not increase the efficiency of delivery or decrease the amount of visitors inside the dining halls, Thompson said.

Zoey Verway-Cohen, a first-year in psychology, said the robots have offered a convenient new option for students to use when walking across campus for a meal is unfeasible, such as when she’s far from dining halls or the weather is bad.

Verway-Cohen said she and her roommates use the robots every other week when ordering food, especially when they are not already outside.

“They do sometimes get in the way but it’s no more than a minor inconvenience of having to walk around them instead of continuing straight ahead,” she said.

Thompson said dining locations have set aside some employees to make deliveries if necessary — which is inconvenient during busy times. Prior to the robots’ arrival on campus, dining halls used Grubhub drivers to make deliveries.

Thompson said delivery drivers have difficulty delivering on campus due to limited parking and troubles finding the correct dorm. He said these difficulties and low pay rates leave drivers unmotivated to complete on-campus deliveries.

During rush hour, dining locations may have up to 30 robot orders with up to an hour wait, Thompson said. With more food robots, he said wait times could decrease.

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