FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — George Mason University has several options for food delivery, including self-driving robots.
“It’s almost become like a second mascot,” said Starship Technologies’ University Account Manager Juan Canahui. “They like to call them the marshmallows….every school kind of has a name for them.”
“We’re in over 40 U.S. campuses now,” he said.
The robots arrived on George Mason University’s campus in January 2019, and their presence continues to grow in the DMV.
“Our developments and engineering headquarters are in Estonia, so, like we like to say, they’re born in the snow. they get a lot of snow up there, and basically, they’re good in any weather conditions….rain, hail, really, you know, 2 to 4 inches of snow,” Canahui said.
The robots make 700 to 900 deliveries per day during the fall and spring semesters at GMU.
“Basically they wait outside of the restaurant and the restaurant has a phone where they can track the order, you know, make the food, and then they’ll scan the robot and link that order to the robot,” said Canahui.
“Starship is a lifesaver, especially during finals,” said GMU student Ilya Kim.
Compared to other food delivery apps, it may also be cheaper.
“So we only charge $2.49 for delivery, and there’s no tipping option,” Canahui said.
This week, an engineer from Estonia with Starship Technologies went to George Mason University to install charging ports that will allow the robots to charge themselves.
Bowie State University announced in February that it is scheduled to receive 15 of the robots.
“The food delivery drones will also create opportunities for student employment, as the robots will need to be cleaned and maintained to stay in working order. Also, the eateries on campus may hire extra hands to deal with bringing food to the drones since they can’t navigate through doorways,” a university spokesperson said.