N.C. A&T, Sodexo and Starship Technologies Launch State’s First Autonomous Campus Food Delivery Service
EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Oct. 25, 2021) — North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and its food services provider, Sodexo, have partnered with Starship Technologies to roll out the university’s food delivery service via autonomous robots. A&T is the first historically Black college or university (HBCU) to partner with Starship, as well as its first partnership in North Carolina.
Starship’s fleet of 20 autonomous, on-demand robots will deliver from three campus eateries: Qdoba, 1891 Bistro and the new Paavo’s Pizza with the goal to expand additional retail locations by next spring. A&T’s students, faculty and staff can now use the Starship Food Delivery app (iOS and Android) to order food and drinks to be delivered on campus, within minutes.
“As a STEM university, A&T and Sodexo’s partnership with Starship Technologies’ autonomous delivery robots falls right in line with what we are about,” said Angela Peterson, associate vice chancellor for Campus Enterprises. “We are incredibly excited to provide this service to our students to help minimize wait times and do it using a real-world application of technology similar to what some of our students are studying.”
The service will be free of delivery fees, which will be covered for students by the university for two years and works in conjunction with student meal plans.
“We are excited to be the first to bring this innovative service to a historically black college and university campus,” said Joseph Burdi, Sodexo district manager for North Carolina A&T Dining Services. “The program will provide added convenience for today’s busy students and meet their increased dining expectations.”
“Everyone on campus loves the robots and looks forward to using them,” said Student Food Advisory Board President Brandon Daye. “They will really come in handy when the weather is bad or if you want to grab food or snacks in between classes.”
Starship Technologies’ zero-emission 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 day and 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.
“We’re really looking forward to serving the students, faculty and staff at A&T,” said Ryan Tuohy, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Sales at Starship Technologies. “We look for university partners that embrace innovation and A&T has that in spades. Because of the focus on STEM, we think the campus community will not only appreciate seeing this innovation firsthand, but they’ll also love the convenience that the service provides. We’re also looking forward hiring student workers who will get real-world experience in AI.”
To get started, users open the Starship Deliveries app, choose from a range of their favorite food or drink items, 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 up to 20 pounds.
The robot delivery company is already providing services to other Sodexo-serviced campuses across the country, including George Mason University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and Northern Arizona University.
About North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is the nation’s largest historically Black university, as well as its top ranked (Money magazine, Best Colleges; Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings). It is a land-grant, doctoral university, classified as “high research” by the Carnegie Foundation and a constituent member of the University of North Carolina System. A&T is known for its leadership in producing graduates in engineering, agriculture and other STEM fields. The university was founded in 1891 and is located in Greensboro, North Carolina.
About Sodexo North America
Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 64 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 125,000 people at 8,000 sites in all 50 U.S. states and Canada, and indirectly supports tens of thousands of additional jobs through its annual purchases of $14B in goods and services from small to large 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., in 2020, the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation mobilized 10,000 Sodexo volunteers to distribute 4.1 million meals to help 5.9 million children and adults meet their immediate food needs. Since 1996, the Stop Hunger Foundation has contributed $36.7 million to help feed children in America impacted by hunger. To learn more about Sodexo, visit us.sodexo.com, and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
About Starship Technologies
Starship Technologies is revolutionizing deliveries with autonomous robots. The robots are designed to deliver food, groceries and packages locally in minutes. The delivery robots have traveled millions of miles and completed over 2m autonomous deliveries around the world. They drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take control at any time. Starship was founded by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis (Skype Chief Architect and Co-founder) and Alastair Westgarth is the CEO.