World's Largest Fleet of Delivery Robots on a University Campus Launched by Sodexo and Starship Technologies
GAITHERSBURG, Md. and SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 22, 2019-- Sodexo, Inc. and Starship Technologies today announced the launch of robot food delivery services at George Mason University's Fairfax, VA campus. Beginning today, Mason's 40,000 students, faculty and staff can access the Starship Deliveries app (iOS and Android) to order food and drinks to be delivered anywhere on campus, within minutes. Blaze Pizza, Starbucks, and Dunkin' and 2nd Stop, a Sodexo-branded campus grocery store, are the first retailers to participate, with more to be announced in the coming weeks. Each on-demand delivery costs just $1.99.
With a fleet of more than 25 robots at launch, this initiative is the largest implementation of autonomous robot food delivery services on a university campus and is representative of Sodexo's next-generation technology portfolio for the College and University Market. Sodexo, a global provider of food and facilities management services, is committed to developing and offering innovative services that enhance the campus experience and meet the expectations of today's students. The service works in conjunction with student meal plans. By making food and drink more accessible, Sodexo and Starship are aiming to make the hectic, on-the-go lives of Mason students and faculty a little easier.
"We're excited that our students, faculty and staff get to be at the forefront of this pioneering campus food delivery service," said Mark Kraner, Executive Director for Campus Retail Operations at George Mason University. "This will enhance life for everyone at the University, and that's something we're continuously looking to build upon. Our commitment to providing an optimal campus experience is one of the things that distinguishes George Mason University as a place where everyone can thrive."
To get started, users open the Starship Deliveries app, choose from a range of their favorite food or beverage items, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can then watch as the robot autonomously makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert, and can then meet the robot and unlock it through the app. The entire delivery usually takes 15 minutes or less, depending on the menu items ordered and the distance the robot must travel. Each robot can carry up to 20 lbs – the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods.
"College students understand the benefits of technology on campus and expect it to be integrated into their daily lives," said Ryan Tuohy, SVP, Business Development, Starship Technologies. "With the hectic schedules students lead, there is a convenience for students to have their food, groceries and packages delivered. Our goal is to make life a little bit easier for students, whether that means skipping the line, eating lunch on the lawn rather than in the cafe, or finding the time to eat better when studying for exams. Commuter students can even meet the robot on their way into class. We look forward to seeing how our service will help and support the daily lives and community of students and educators at George Mason University."
Starship Technologies is the world's leading autonomous delivery service and operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Their robots have completed over 25,000 deliveries and travelled more than 150,000 miles. The robots use sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence, and arrays of sensors to seamlessly travel on sidewalks and navigate around obstacles. The computer vision-based navigation uses proprietary technology to provide precision in telemetry to the nearest inch. The robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow. In addition, the robots can be stored in pods located around campus where their batteries are automatically switched so they can continue to operate independently, with no human involvement.
"University dining programs are evolving their strategies to meet this generation's elevated expectations, such as better quality, variety and service delivery," said Jim Jenkins, CEO, Universities East, Sodexo North America. "George Mason University's culture of innovation and early adoption makes it the perfect campus for Sodexo and Starship to introduce this cutting-edge technology and enhance the campus experience for the entire school community."
"Being able to get food delivered to me within minutes is going to be fun and convenient," said Mason student Jenna Dayton. "The lines can get long in between classes, and once you get a table at the library, you don't want to give it up. Not only will this make my life easier as a student, but I'm going to get a visit from a robot!"
Sodexo and Starship plan to expand the program to additional campus locations globally in the future.
About Sodexo North America
Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 72 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. The company employs 150,000 people at 13,000 sites in all 50 U.S. states and Canada and indirectly supports tens of thousands of additional jobs through its annual purchases of $9.2 billion in goods and services from small to large American businesses. Sodexo is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion and safety, while upholding the highest standards of corporate responsibility and ethical business conduct. In support of local communities across the U.S., the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has contributed close to $32 million over the past 20 years to help feed children in America impacted by hunger.
About Starship Technologies
Starship Technologies is revolutionizing deliveries by using autonomous delivery robots. The robots are designed to deliver goods locally in minutes. The delivery robots have travelled tens of thousands of miles, met millions of people and have been tested in over 100 cities around the world to date. They drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take over control at any time. Starship was founded by two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis and former AirBnB executive Lex Bayer is CEO.