Universities Allow Dozens of Grubhub Delivery Robots on Their Campuses

By B.N. Frank

Warnings about Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and robots replacing human jobs have been ongoing for years (see 1, 2, 3, 4).  Delivery drivers and/or aspiring ones certainly have less employment opportunities now at a growing number of American college campuses.

From GovTech:


Ohio State University Tests Out Grubhub Food Delivery Robots

Food delivery robots from Grubhub made their debut on the campus of Ohio State University more than a week ago. Students will benefit from a total of 50 robots, with more on the way.

(TNS) — Jeffrey McKee made a peculiar sighting on his way to work at Ohio State a few weeks ago. Rolling around campus was what appeared to be a food cooler with wheels and a camera perched on its roof.

“One of these things was running right along side of me,” said McKee, a professor in Ohio State’s Department of Anthropology. “It was amusing but also bemusing, because I didn’t know what they were.”

The OSU instructor had several theories.

“Is this the engineering department doing an experiment?” he said. “Is it a mapping device? That was my main thought, because we have these Google cars mapping everything.”

TRYING OUT FOOD DELIVERY ‘ROVERS’ ON OSU CAMPUS

The roughly two-foot-high automated carrier turned out to be a food delivery robot making one of several trial runs in recent weeks. GrubHub and Ohio State’s Student Life dining services officially unveiled the robots — which they call “rovers” — in a demonstration on Aug. 19.

The delivery company wants to use the rovers — which can make deliveries on campus — to reach new customers who may have been discouraged by long wait times. The automated carts can quickly deliver to campus residence halls, which are not accessible by car and therefore difficult for delivery drivers to reach in a timely fashion.

Grubhub hopes to launch the service on campuses across the country in the coming months. The company is also testing the rovers on other campuses, but will not say which ones.

European vehicle developer Yandex designed and owns the robots, which operate using Grubhub’s delivery app. The rovers will initially deliver from a campus café and food market to every campus residence hall, plus the main library for $2.50 per delivery.

Grubhub will use 50 robots at first, and add another 50 in the coming months.

Second-year Ohio State student Abby Silone showed a group of reporters how to use the automated carriers at the Aug. 19 demonstration. She stood in the shadow of Davis Tower Thursday morning opposite a row of rovers adorned with the Grubhub logo and keyed an order into her phone.

The demonstration was temporarily halted over a slight snag — requiring Silone to change the settings on her app — but after the quick adjustment, one of the robots wheeled itself to nearby Drackett Tower to deliver the orange juice Silone ordered.

Chicago-based Grubhub, which uses drivers in most cases, wants to expand into neighborhoods and communities with few roads.

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Activist Post reports regularly about A.I., robots, and other unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives.

Image: Pixabay

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