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New delivery service at UK sends robots to students’ doors

A new delivery service is causing quite a stir on the University of Kentucky’s campus.
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A new delivery service is causing quite a stir on the University of Kentucky’s campus. That’s because when students receive their order, it won’t be a human they’ll see at their door.

It’s the start of fall semester and UK’s campus is full of faculty, students.... and now robots?

“We just lovingly refer to them as, you know, the bots,” launch specialist David Haygood said.

Whatever you call them, the bots could very well be the future of the food delivery service, at least for students on 25 campuses across the country.

“They can wake up in the morning and get their Starbucks delivered to them, or have their late-night snack delivered to them from a grocery store,” Haygood said.

A brainchild from the co-founders of Skype, Haygood says the Starship bots operate in a similar way to DoorDash and Uber Eats. You place your order on the app, the bot picks it up from the restaurant or store, and then brings it right to you.

“It’s next level technology with contact-less delivery,” said Polkit Vigg with UK Dining.

The autonomous bots use GPS to cross streets, maneuver through traffic, and even recover if they hit a bump or two in the road.

“If you want your food in the rain, if you want it in the snow, they’ll take care of that for you,” Haygood said.

The bots are quickly becoming an unofficial mascot among students.

“Your first day of school, you’re Instagramming or sending a picture to your mom, and it’s a selfie with a robot. That’s priceless,” Vigg said.

There are currently 22 delivery bots on campus right now, but there will be 30 in a couple of weeks. Right now, they deliver food from several on-campus restaurants.

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