Starship Robots: Automated Service with Well-Mannered Warmth

The last five years have seen a massive boom in food delivery services. Once bound to certain foods like pizza and Chinese, now any type of food, as well as groceries, are available. Delivery services such as Uber Eats, GrubHub, and DoorDash have become household names. But the next great food delivery might be a little less… human. Starship Robots may be the next name added to that list.

Reliable and…. Endearing?

Enter the Starship robots. These adorable little guys can bring you piping hot meals, groceries, and even small parcels. You order using an app on your phone. The app also monitors the robot’s progress. The Starship robot can travel within a four-mile radius from its starting destination. It will weather through rain and snow to bring you your requested items.

One George Mason University student noted that the Starship robots feel a little like “campus pets.” The community has an affection for them and students and faculty describe allowing them to pass in front, though the robot is fully capable of navigating around obstacles. The robot also incorporates “please” and “thank you” during the delivery. It leaves an impression of sweetness despite its mechanical nature.

Safety, Reliability, and Good Directions

The Starship robot uses a GPS system to track its location. This GPS prevents theft of the robot and its contents. it uses twelve cameras and ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles like pedestrians and vehicles. The robots are slow, low-mass machines. They pose no threat to cars or humans. When the robot reaches the location, the customer uses a special button on the Starship app to open the robot. They remove its contents and send it back on its merry way. The interaction is complete with a polite robot “thank you” and “Have a nice day!” The Starship robots operate mostly in cities or on college campuses in the United States, England, Germany, Denmark, and Estonia.

Our Robot World

Starship was founded in 2016, around the dawn of the food delivery craze. The usage of automated robots as opposed to its competitors mostly using human delivery drivers set it apart. The robots do have limitations – slow speed, a comparatively low amount of storage, and a limited range of operation. However, these little guys do have several legs (wheels?) up on their human counterparts. The robots are incredibly safety conscious. They can detect movement and avoid getting hit by cars or running over people. The robots are also electrically powered, a very ecologically conscious option. Their benefits, along with their popular cute design, have made the robots an instant smash hit. Starship recently celebrated their one-millionth delivery this year.

This piece was contributed by Virginia Linza. She is majoring in Film and English at George Mason University. Her favorite way to enjoy art is snuggled up with a warm cat.

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