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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Campus

Despite shutdown, delivery robots will be back on campus in fall


The dining robots were shut down in late May, but they will come back when most students return in the fall. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The dining robots were shut down in late May, but they will come back when most students return in the fall. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Although they were shut down in late May, the Starship Technologies fleet of autonomous robots on campus will be back to delivering food when most students return to campus in Fall 2020.

The robots, which began roaming campus last November, stuck around campus after many students moved out because of the coronavirus pandemic and were in service until May 21.

Chartwells District Marketing Manager Alexcis Mendoza said the delivery robots were not considered as a health risk on campus.

“Prior to this time, the delivery robots did see an enhancement to standard cleaning and sanitation practices and a decrease in user participation correlated to the decrease in on-campus residents and start of summer break,” Mendoza said.

The delivery service offered students that were on campus a chance to have contact-free delivery for meals and snacks, Mendoza said. 

Students who were on campus as the University closed and social distancing guidelines went into effect were still able to use the robots and see them around. Hotel and Restaurant Management sophomore Kimberly Shen, who stayed on campus after many students moved out, said the robots were less common.

“I probably saw (the robots) less due to less demand since less students were on campus,” Shen said.

When the machines are not roaming around campus, they have to have somewhere to go and dock. Now that they will not be in use for the summer, there’s a specific place where all 30 UH robots get to stay.

“The robots are being housed in the robot hotel of course!” Mendoza said in an email. “All of the bots have been fully sanitized and are resting and recharging for the fall semester.”

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