November 3, 2022

Ball State gets food delivery robots, ready to tackle obstacles and human nature

“Hello. I’m a Starship delivery robot.” Ball State has 24 of them. - Stephanie Wiechmann / IPR News

“Hello. I’m a Starship delivery robot.” Ball State has 24 of them.

Stephanie Wiechmann / IPR News

Food delivery robots have begun rolling out on Ball State University’s campus, delivering campus dining options to students, staff, and guests.  The manufacturer says they are equipped to traverse the obstacles of college life.

“Hello. I’m a Starship delivery robot.”

You may have seen the white cooler-shaped, six-wheeled bots with headlights on the internet, where people like to celebrate their difficulties.  But officials say the delivery robots can handle a lot.

Like tricky terrain or construction –

“Just like on your car’s GPS, the robots will essentially re-route,” says Joe Maloney, US Launch Specialist with Starship Technologies.  “And any additional robots will know that that section is closed and they can go a different way.”

Indiana snow –

“They will go through snow, up to, you know, between 4-6 inches of snow,” says Karen Adkins, senior director of auxiliary services for dining, catering, and events.

And people with mischief on their minds –

“We do have 12 cameras and sensors around the robot,” says Maloney.  “The only times the robots are going to unlock is when a merchant is placing food into it or when a customer is taking food out of it.”

Maloney says the robots also have an alarm that triggers when trouble happens.

Ball State’s 24 robots are app-driven and will deliver primarily between 8 AM and 7:30 PM to start, beginning at several dining locations.  Adkins says as people get more used to the robots and staffing levels increase, more late-night delivery hours can be added.  But the robots will still only deliver to locations on the Ball State campus.

Nearly 30 campuses across the country have the robots.  Ball State is the second in Indiana, after Purdue.  Maloney says the robots nationally have hit four million deliveries and counting.

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