The future is here, and it has your Starbucks order.
Another college has jumped aboard the food-wielding robot train. A few weeks ago, PepsiCo unleashed a fleet of self-driving snack delivery bots across the University of the Pacific's California campus, and now, Fairfax, Virginia's George Mason University has incorporated 25 robots into its official meal plan (making it the first of its kind).
The new system, a collaboration between food service company Sodexo Inc. and autonomous delivery service Starship Technologies, is available to GMU's 40,000 students, faculty, and staff starting this week. As with the University of the Pacific's robot delivery system, George Mason University users must first download an app. From there, they can order food and drinks from a handful of locations (Blaze Pizza, Starbucks, Dunkin, the on-campus grocery store) for a $1.99 delivery fee, in conjunction with their meal plans.
Once an order has been placed, the user drops a pin where they want their food to be sent (they can watch their bot-friend's journey via an interactive map, if they so choose). They'll receive an alert when the robot has completed its journey, and can then meet them and unlock the bot's food hatch (each robot is kind of like a cooler on wheels—they can carry about 20 pounds, or three grocery bags' worth, of food). The whole process takes 15 minutes or less.
"With the hectic schedules students lead, there is a convenience for students to have their food, groceries, and packages delivered," Ryan Tuohy, SVP of business development at Starship Technologies, said in statement. "Our goal is to make life a little bit easier for students, whether that means skipping the line, eating lunch on the lawn rather than in the cafe, or finding the time to eat better when studying for exams." Our only complaint: the robots (and, to be fair, most things) could really be improved with a set of googly eyes.