These robots travel quickly but are cautious of potential hazards. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

The robot invasion has begun — and they are bringing food to hungry folks on the Missouri State University campus. 

A robot food delivery service kicked off Tuesday through a partnership with Starship Technologies and Chartwells Higher Education. 

This is the first university in Missouri where Starship delivery robots are providing service, according to a press release.

Starship’s fleet of 20 autonomous robots will deliver food daily from several campus eateries, including:   

  • Einstein Bros. Bagels
  • Panda Express
  • Subway
  • Market Café 1905 (will be added soon)

App available with iOS and Android

Robots are parked near the Plaster Student Union, awaiting orders. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

MSU students, faculty and staff can use the Starship Food Delivery app (iOS and Android) to order food and drinks to be delivered anywhere on campus.

Soon, the service will work in conjunction with the student meal plan dining dollars, the release said. 

According to Terry Weber, Missouri State’s Plaster Student Union director, the convenience that robotic food delivery will provide to the campus is immense. 

 “Buildings and individuals not in close proximity to the dining centers or retail vendors will have food options they’ve never had before,” he said in the release.

Starship is already providing services to campuses across the country, including Bowling Green State University, University of Houston, The University of Utah and University of Idaho.  

How does the robot delivery service work?

Students wait for their robot to bring them food near the MSU campus. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

Users open the Starship Deliveries app, choose from a range of food or drink items, and then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map.

Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert, and can then meet and unlock it through the app. The delivery usually takes just a matter of minutes, depending on the menu items ordered and the distance the robot must travel. Each robot can carry the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods.

“We’re excited to start the new school year by expanding our services to Missouri,” Chris Neider, director of business development at Starship Technologies, said in the release. “We think the students will quickly see the advantages of contactless delivery and enjoy having the robots become part of the campus community.”

After ordering Subway, Managing Editor Brittany Meiling is ready for her lunch. (Screenshot by Brittany Meiling)

More about the robots

According to the release:

Starship Technologies operates commercially daily around the world and is already providing services to campuses across the country. Its zero-emission robots have made more than 3.5 million autonomous deliveries, traveled millions of miles and make more than 140,000 road crossings every day.

The robots use a combination of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to travel on sidewalks and navigate around obstacles. The computer vision-based navigation helps the robots to map their environment to the nearest inch. The robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow. A team of humans can also monitor their progress remotely and can take control at a moment’s notice.

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She covers housing, homelessness, domestic violence and early childhood, among other public affairs issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald