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08/19/2021

Grubhub brings robotic delivery to Ohio State campus

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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There will be a new on-campus dining option at Ohio State University this fall – courtesy of Grubhub and Yandex Self-Driving Group.

The leading on-demand delivery provider is teaming up with the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of European Internet company Yandex to roll out delivery via Yandex robots at The Ohio State University. Ohio State students will be able to order food items from on-campus dining locations via the Grubhub app and have them delivered by one of 50 Yandex robots operating at the campus.

Yandex robots autonomously navigate pavements, campus crosswalks and pedestrian areas. They move around the large Ohio State University campus at three to five miles per hour during daytime and after dark and in various weather conditions, including rain and snow. The robots can fit a couple of coffees and a bagel sandwich, or multiple pizzas, all while keeping the food at the right temperature.

Autonomous robots are becoming an increasingly popular means of facilitating on-demand food delivery. Amazon pioneered remotely operated delivery robots with its 2019 pilot of the six-wheeled Scout device in Washington state, which it followed up with a pilot in California.

Other retailers that have since tested four- and six-wheeled robotic delivery vehicles include Safeway and SaveMart. The concept is now widespread enough to even reach smaller, local retailers. Urban Value Corner Store, which operates stores in and around the Dallas area, is partnering with e-commerce solution provider Vroom Delivery and last-mile robot technology specialist Tortoise to offer on-demand delivery of thousands of products in the coming months.

The Grubhub/Yandex robots will operate at Ohio State University from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. Students can request robots to deliver food to every residence hall on campus, as well as the Thompson Library and Bricker Hall campus buildings.

"We're excited to bring this cutting-edge and efficient delivery experience to students at The Ohio State University," said Brian Madigan, VP of corporate and campus partners at Grubhub. "Ohio State and Grubhub have worked together for years to offer students a variety of ways to enjoy the food they love on campus. Now we're building on our efforts to enhance the dining experience through Yandex's rover technology for quicker and easier deliveries."

"By partnering with Grubhub, we can bring robotic delivery to some of the people who need it most - students, researchers and professors who are short on time," said Peter Szelei, business development executive at Yandex SDG. "Not only do the rovers enhance the current food delivery options, but open new possibilities for smarter, better and faster dining. Imagine ordering morning coffee and grabbing it from a robot waiting at your doorstep as you head out to class, or studying in a park with friends and requesting a rover to roll up and deliver snacks. We're thrilled to support making these possibilities a reality."

"We pride ourselves on offering an exceptional dining experience to students, and we're always looking to provide new ways to make getting food on campus as convenient as possible," said Zia Ahmed, senior director, dining services at The Ohio State University.