Starship partners with Grubhub to bring sidewalk bots to colleges

Autonomous sidewalk delivery robot company Starship Technologies is partnering with food ordering and delivery company Grubhub to provide robotic delivery services on college campuses across the U.S.

Today, Starship’s bots deliver through Grubhub at the University of Kentucky, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Wayne State University, Southern Methodist University and Fairfield Universitybut the companies are working on adding eight or nine more universities by the end of this year.

Starship already works with more than 25 universities across the country to deliver food from dining halls and on-campus restaurants. The Grubhub partnership marks a pivot for Starship toward delivery as a service, with the ordering going through the Grubhub app but robot operations and maintenance still handled by Starship, according to Ryan Tuohy, Starship’s chief commercial officer.

“We have just launched ‘Delivery by Starship’ with Grubhub and we’re in multiple discussions with other partners to offer our world-leading robot delivery experience as a B2B delivery-as-a-service solution,” Tuohy told TechCrunch. “Delivery by Starship integrates into retailers’ existing platforms to make food delivery more sustainable and efficient.”

This summer, Starship was among one of the many startups that had to layoff staff and pull out of unprofitable markets. Tuohy told TechCrunch that more campuses are turning profitable on a monthly basis, particularly as Starship’s bots become more autonomous. Partnering with delivery platforms like Grubhub while targeting college campuses might be a good way for the company to streamline and scale up.

Starship’s bots, of which there are anywhere from 15 to 60 roaming around on campuses, usually operate beginning in the early morning and often extend late into the night in order to feed all variety of munchies. The bots can travel up to four miles per hour, can operate in the rain or snow, and carry the equivalent of three bags of groceries, according to the company.

Grubhub, which has a presence on more than 250 college campuses across the country, has also recently partnered with Cartken to bring robotic delivery to Ohio State University. Previously, Grubhub had partnered with Russian internet company Yandex at OSU and University of Arizona, but had to pull out of that partnership at the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine.


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