Robots for Package and Food Delivery Invade the Sidewalks

Editor’s Note: According to this article in the National Law Journal, it’s back-to-school for robots--at least the ones making deliveries on college campuses, including George Mason University, Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin. Badger Technologies autonomous robots navigate store aisles easily and safely, so making deliveries is a logical next step. As students hit the books, autonomous robots will be ready to hit the bricks, bringing food and other items to make students’ lives easier.

A robot for the food delivery market first debuted at George Mason University in January 2019 from Starship Technologies. 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. Though a small percentage of people 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.

This article was written by Kathryn M. Rattigan for Cole LLP and Robinson from National Law Review and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.