What’s up with those small, wheeled robots on campus?
They are the food-delivery robots that UW Housing is using so that students, faculty, and staff can have their orders brought to them. Housing employs 30 of the robots, which are made by a company called Starship Technologies. (They are not actual starships, which are much larger, move at faster-than-light speed, and employ hundreds or even thousands of crew members, at least one to three of whom die each week — usually the ones wearing red uniforms.) The delivery program kicked off in November 2019; if you saw the robots earlier, it was likely during the period in which Starship was having the bots explore campus, testing terrain and delivery routes. Now, human members of the campus community can load the Starship Delivery app to their phones and use it to order a meal or snack. Some of us are curious to see how the automatons handle a Wisconsin winter, which is when they’ll likely be in high demand — and possibly in deep snow. (Want more robot content? Follow them on Instagram.)