Deep into Ohio’s winter, delivery robots are feeling the cold, too.
Some students using food delivery robots have received cold meals this semester, as the machines are not built to insulate food amid Ohio’s winter weather.
The Yandex delivery bots — robot carriers that bring food from on-campus restaurants to residence halls and campus buildings — were designed to operate in warmer climates, Yulia Shveyko, media relations for self-driving cars at Yandex, said. The robots’ insulation cannot handle Ohio’s cold temperatures and wind chill during the winter months, which results in the food inside getting cold.
“The robots that have been used on your campus, the Ohio State, were designed for a climate more of Arizona State,” Shveyko said. “We are working toward a design that is less affected by wind chill that is provided by the flat terrain of your area.”
Jack Henderson, a first-year in industrial and systems engineering, said he ordered a grilled cheese and fries, and when they arrived at his dorm room, he found his food cold to the touch.
“I ended up just throwing it away,” Henderson said.
Grubhub senior representative Jenna Demarco said in an email the food delivery company has been refunding diners who encounter these issues with their orders.
University spokesperson Dave Isaacs said in an email that in the first winter of use, there is a learning curve with the robots.
“We continue to learn and make operational adjustments based on feedback and other observations,” Isaacs said.
Shveyko said Yandex is sending out its third-generation robots, which are more spacious and better suited for severe weather conditions, that were built and tested in Russia, Israel and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She said the company has been rolling out the new robots since November 2021 and expects to grow from 50 robots to 100 over time.