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University of South Carolina launches autonomous robot food delivery

Updated: Apr 17

The University of South Carolina has launched an autonomous robot food delivery service on its Columbia campus in collaboration with GrubHub and Starship Technologies.

The launch is the leading edge of The Intelligence Tsunami (, which is arriving and reshaping how we live and work. While relatively small in scale currently, this deployment demonstrates how AI capabilities are now being commercialized and hitting the mainstream. It foreshadows the wave of disruption heading towards many industries as AI systems become more capable and ubiquitous.

This service is designed to cater to more than 30,000 students, faculty members and staff, offering a selection of meals from 11 different on-campus dining options through the Grubhub app.

Starship Technologies business development vice-president Chris Neider said: “We’re looking forward to launching our first service in South Carolina.

“It’s extra special each time we launch service in a new state and we’re really excited to introduce the USC campus to our little robots and the convenience of autonomous delivery.”

In the initial phase of the service, Starship’s fleet of autonomous robots will deliver orders to designated areas within the main campus, bordered by Assembly, Blossom and Gervais streets.

Plans to extend the delivery zone are already in the pipeline. Each robot can carry approximately three shopping bags worth of items and features insulation to maintain the temperature of food and beverages during transit.

With the use of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence and a variety of sensors, the robots are capable of navigating sidewalks precisely and avoiding obstructions.

Its computer vision-based navigation systems map their surroundings to the nearest inch, allowing them to cross streets, mount kerbs and operate in rain and snow and at night.

To ensure safety and reliability, the robots are monitored by a team of human operators who can assume control instantly if necessary.

Grubhub Campus vice-president and general manager Rob DelaCruz said: “We’re proud to build on our partnership with the University of South Carolina by offering robot delivery to students and faculty.

“This type of delivery is a perfect fit for campus environments to provide scalable and cost-effective food delivery solutions to students.

“We’ve seen that students love the convenience and repeatedly choose this fun, new way to get their meals delivered right to their door.” Source: Verdict Food Service

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