Grubhub to offer robot delivery on college campuses

The company is partnering with Russia-based Yandex to deliver food using autonomous rovers.
Person retrieving food from Yandex rover
Photograph courtesy of Yandex

Grubhub is adding delivery robots to its repertoire on college campuses.

The third-party delivery company has partnered with Yandex, a Russia-based internet company, to give campus restaurants the option to offer delivery by robot. Yandex's autonomous "rovers" will be able to navigate from pickup to dropoff point, reaching parts of campus that aren't accessible to cars.

Grubhub said the bots are faster and more cost-effective than traditional delivery and are uniquely suited for campuses.

"While college campuses are notoriously difficult for cars to navigate, specifically as it relates to food delivery, Yandex robots easily access parts of campuses that vehicles cannot," said Brian Madigan, vice president of corporate and campus partners at Grubhub, in a statement.

Chicago-based Grubhub has partnerships with more than 250 college campuses in the U.S., allowing students to integrate Grubhub with their meal plan and order from restaurants both on and off campus. Colleges can opt in to the delivery bot program for the fall semester.

Yandex rovers have been operating commercially in Russia since late 2020, delivering thousands of orders from restaurants and grocery stores using its own food delivery platforms, Yandex.Eats and Yandex.Lavka. The company made its U.S. debut in April, when its rovers began delivering from local restaurants in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The bots can handle last-mile deliveries in pre-mapped areas, including navigating crosswalks. Campus diners will get a notification when a robot is approaching, and can then use Grubhub's app to open a hatch on the bot and retrieve their food. 

Robot delivery has grown quickly on college campuses, which have become a kind of proving ground for the last-mile technology. Kiwibot, which has worked with restaurants in more urban environments, is intently focused on college campuses for now, as is Starship Technologies.

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