‘Robots Don’t Need Lunch Breaks’: Grubhub Rolls Out Food-Delivering Robots

Ailan Evans

Food delivery service Grubhub announced Tuesday its plans to use robots to deliver food on college campuses this fall.

The company partnered with Russian technology firm Yandex to use its “rover” robots to automate food delivery on more than 250 college campuses, Grubhub announced in a press release. The program plans to be operational by the fall semester, and will allow students to integrate their meal plans directly into their Grubhub account.

“We’re excited to offer these cost-effective, scalable and quick food ordering and delivery capabilities to colleges and universities across the country that are looking to adapt to students’ unique dining needs,” Brian Madigan, vice president of corporate and campus partners at Grubhub, said in a statement.

Grubhub touted the fact that the autonomous delivery program would be contact-free, and said the technology allowed universities to “disrupt the traditional status quo dining experience.” The company also noted robots can access areas of the campus cars cannot, thereby “providing efficient automation for last mile logistics scenarios.”

Grubhub’s partner, Yandex, is a large technology firm based in Russia and is active in the online search market, as well as in robotics, e-commerce and digital advertising. Yandex has previously experimented with robot deliveries in Moscow, according to a statement announcing the Grubhub partnership.

“We are delighted to deploy dozens of our rovers, taking the next step in actively commercializing our self-driving technology in different markets across the globe,’’ Dmitry Polishchuk, CEO of Yandex Self-Driving Group, said in a statement.

The company also said that autonomous delivery will be more cost effective for customers.

“Robots don’t need lunch breaks, there are no high turnover issues, they are easy to manage,” Artem Fokin, head of business development at Yandex Self-Driving Group, told The Wall Street Journal.

Several major tech companies have recently forayed into autonomous delivery. Google experimented with its BookBot, a robot that would return library books, while Amazon’s Scout robot has been delivering packages in certain neighborhoods in Washington, as well as some college campuses, since January 2019.

Postmates had experimented with automated food delivery in 2018 with its Serve robot, which was spun out into its own company in March 2021.

Amazon also announced plans last week to open a development center for its Scouts robots in Finland.

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