A robot for the food delivery market first debuted at George Mason University in January 2019 from Starship Technologies (Starship). Starship did minimal marketing for these new robots for package and food delivery, but students found them, found the app, and then started requesting package and food delivery. It took off from there.
Now, more than a year later, students dress them up for events and make sure the robots can get through sometimes crowded sidewalks. The robot is now seen as simply another pedestrian. While there is a small percentage of people who are suspicious of these robots, the majority view them as a way to make their lives easier.
Following recent releases of robot delivery forces at Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin, Starship plans to release such robots on more than 100 university campuses over the next two years, and several new job postings seeking operators and support staffing college towns such as Austin, Texas and Tuscaloosa, Alabama have appeared.
Package and food delivery with autonomous robots may be a relatively small market in the near term, but according to industry experts, it’s already attracting a large number of competitors using a wide variety of systems (e.g., FedEx’s SameDay delivery robot). The delivery robot market is expected to grow from $11.9 million in 2018 to $34 million in 2024. Perhaps your next pizza will be delivered by a Starship robot, if you happen to be strolling around a college campus any time soon.