MSU's Boomer the bear poses with a Starship food delivery robot.

Students and staff have the pleasure to walk to class beside a Starship food delivery robot since their launch on Sept. 8.

According to Jo Maloney, Starship launch specialist, Starship started delivering in Europe in 2014 and came to American colleges in 2018. Missouri State University is the first Missouri college to have the service.

According to Maloney, the robots have sensors and cameras to provide a 360-degree view to navigate through crowds and uneven paths. He said the robots are “99 percent autonomous. That other one percent are the special cases.” Operators can intervene if robots get stuck or someone is preventing delivery.

According to the Starship privacy policy, identifiable images of people are blurred in the videos stored for further safety analysis and robots do not record audio.

According to MaryJo Miller, Chartwells Director of Marketing, customers can have Einstein Bagels, Queencity Soul Food, Starbucks, Subway, Panda Express and Freddy’s delivered anywhere on main campus. The boundaries are Kimbrough Avenue to National Avenue and Grand Street to Cherry Street.

To order, customers need to download the Starship app, select a delivery location, and order no later than 30 minutes before the restaurant closes. A $2.49 Starship fee and 10 percent MSU fee apply to order.

Maloney said the merchants bring the order to the robot, which is located outside of the respective building. Miller said there is extra staffing available if orders become overwhelming.

Once the robot arrives at the delivery location, the customer unlocks the robot with directions via the app. 

In the future, students can use dining dollars to pay for orders. Miller said that feature is being worked on. In response to partnering with Starship, Miller said, “We are excited to be the first (college campus) in the state.”

Follow Meghan McKinney on Twitter, @burning_leaves_

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