Robot deliveries begin at University of Houston: How delivery process works

HOUSTON – Robots are now delivering takeout and groceries across the University of Houston campus, according to a news release sent Monday by the university. 

UH and Starship Technologies, an autonomous delivery robot company, are touting the rollout of 30 autonomous robots in a news release, saying the university is "the first institution of higher education in the state of Texas to offer robotic food deliveries on campus."

Here's how it is intended to work: Users open the Starship Deliveries app -- available on iOS and Android devices -- choose the items they would like from one of eleven UH Dining locations -- including Drexler's, Starbucks, Einstein Brothers Bagels, Panda Express and Cougar Village Market -- and drop a pin by selecting the location on the service map where they want their food to be delivered. 

A news release explains that the app allows users to watch the robot's journey to them through an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, the user will receive an alert, and they can meet the robot 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. 

The news release says robots can carry up to 20 pounds -- the equivalent of about three shopping bags of groceries. 

Delivery hours vary at the participating campus restaurants. The service is paid for by the customer through a $1.99 delivery fee. Payment can be made via credit, debit or Cougar Cash. 

"This revolutionary delivery method will make it more convenient for the campus community to take advantage of our diverse dining program from anywhere on campus while expanding the hours of operation," said Emily Messa, UH associate vice president for administration. "By opening our campus to this innovative service, which is paid for by the customers, the university didn't have to spend any money purchasing the technology, yet we're enhancing our food delivery capabilities."

Have you used this technology yet, University of Houston students or staff? Let us know in the comments what you think about the process – and the robots.

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