Ghost kitchens ride on the backs of delivery bots to college campuses – Meczyki.Net

Universities turn to robots to address labor shortage and explore new businesses

relatively controlled The environments of university campuses have long served as ideal testing grounds for autonomous technology, and they are proving particularly effective for pavement delivery robots.

In the latest move to roll out autonomous delivery on college campuses, food delivery platform Grubhub and sidewalk delivery robot startup Cartken, earlier last week common plans To bring 50 food delivery robots to Ohio State University this fall. Expanding their spring semester pilot of 15 bots, the plan is to have about 100 Cartken robots around OSU by the end of the school year.

A closed, geofenced environment allows companies to test a higher degree of autonomy because there are fewer edge cases and difficult scenarios, such as busy intersections. And campuses usually have neatly paved sidewalks, perfect for delivery robots’ tiny wheels.

As more universities across the United States gradually become homes for such robots, they are finding that bots are not just a new feature to please hungry students or fuel their desire to welcome innovation. Huh. Universities are now relying on bots to address labor shortages and explore new business opportunities, such as delivery-only kitchens, popularly referred to as “ghost kitchens.”

“If you think about it, almost every kitchen in today’s world is a ghost kitchen, because every restaurant is doing delivery now.” Zia Ahmed, Senior Director, Dining Services, OSU

“Universities are starting to see an opportunity to marry that concept of running multiple restaurants from a production facility and linking it to robotics. This allows them to choose a central point on campus that is operationally or logistically beneficial, and then create a complete set of virtual restaurants that can only be delivered via robots,” said Grubhub of Campus Business Development. director Benjamin Anderson told Meczyki.Net.

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Universities are no strangers to autonomous delivery robots, but startups are now steadily increasing their presence on campus sidewalks.

Grubhub is just expanding on its previous work with its new plans – the company previously worked with OSU and Arizona State University to deploy autonomous rovers from Russian Internet company Yandex. They were popular with students, those involved said, but Grubhub, like many Western companies, feared the scars of war, pulled out of that partnership When Russia invaded Ukraine.

However, this is Cartken’s first foray into university delivery. Earlier this year, the startup partnered with Mitsubishi to bring delivery to some malls in Japan and is also working with REEF Technology for deliveries from Ghost Kitchen in downtown Miami.

Big rival Starship Technologies, arguably the leader in space, has been deploying robots on campuses for years. The startup, which last raised $42 million in December, operates in 30 colleges in the US and will announce more partnerships in the coming months, the company said.