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08/20/2021

More Food Robots Enroll at College

Grubhub, Yandex roll out autonomous delivery vehicles at Ohio State University
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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More Food Robots Enroll at College
Buckeyes can order food from on-campus dining locations via the Grubhub app and have orders delivered by one of 50 Yandex robots operating at the OSU campus in a fast and cost-effective way.

College students can expect to see more delivery robots on campus this semester. Online food delivery platform Grubhub and Yandex Self-Driving Group (SDG), an autonomous vehicle developer inside Yandex, one of Europe’s largest internet companies, will roll out delivery via Yandex’s robots at its first college campus — Ohio State University (OSU).

This follows the recent news that Kiwibot, a robotic last-mile delivery company, and its foodservice and facilities management partner, Sodexo North America, will offer robot food delivery at another three university campuses: New Mexico State University; Loyola Marymount University, in California; and Gonzaga University, in Washington state.

“By partnering with Grubhub, we can bring robotic delivery to some of the people who need it most students, researchers and professors who are short on time,” said Peter Szelei, business development executive at Yandex SDG. “Not only do the rovers enhance the current food delivery options, but open new possibilities for smarter, better and faster dining. Imagine ordering morning coffee and grabbing it from a robot waiting at your doorstep as you head out to class, or studying in a park with friends and requesting a rover to roll up and deliver snacks. We’re thrilled to support making these possibilities a reality.”

More than 60,000 Buckeyes will be able to order their favorite foods from on-campus dining locations via the Grubhub app and have them delivered by one of 50 Yandex robots operating at the OSU campus. The rovers operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Students can request robots to deliver food to every residence hall on campus as well as Thompson Library and Bricker Hall.

“We’re excited to bring this cutting-edge and efficient delivery experience to students at The Ohio State University,” said Brian Madigan, VP of corporate and campus partners at Chicago-based Grubhub. “OSU and Grubhub have worked together for years to offer students a variety of ways to enjoy the food they love on campus. Now we’re building on our efforts to enhance the dining experience through Yandex’s rover technology for quicker and easier deliveries.”

Yandex robots autonomously navigate pavements, campus crosswalks and pedestrian areas, which are notoriously challenging to reach by car. They move around a large university campus at 3 to 5 miles per hour during daytime and after dark and in various weather conditions, including rain and snow. The robots are reportedly spacious enough to fit a couple of coffees and a bagel sandwich, or multiple pizzas, all while keeping the food at the right temperature.

Russia-based Yandex has been developing its proprietary self-driving technology since 2017. As of today, Yandex’s autonomous vehicle fleet has 170 cars, which have driven more than 7 million autonomous miles on public roads in three countries Russia, Israel and the United States. Since late 2019, the company has also been developing its own delivery robots. Based on the same self-driving technology as its autonomous vehicles, these rovers are built to deliver small- and medium-sized packages. 

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