Students at George Mason University and Northern Arizona University have been getting food delivered by robot since the beginning of the year. Now, in a major expansion of robotic food-delivery, the company behind those robots, Starship Technologies, said that it had raised $40 million led by Morpheus Ventures to expand its service to 100 college campuses.
The San Francisco-based company, whose total funding is now $85 million, rolled out its cooler-size robots at University of Pittsburgh today and announced plans to launch at Purdue University after Labor Day. Starship CEO Lex Bayer told Forbes that Starship would add several new universities each month, at an accelerating pace, until it hit the 100 mark in 2021. “It doesn't make sense for a person in a two-ton vehicle to deliver a burrito to me,” he says.
Robotic delivery has been a hot area of late. Food delivery company Postmates debuted the Serve, a yellow, black and white robot with large black eyes, last December. Other companies that have developed delivery robots include Nuro, Kiwibot and Marble.
Starship currently has 250 robots on the streets, and each new college that signs up will add another 25 to 50 robots, Bayer says. He expects that Starship’s fleet will total 500 to 1,000 robots by year-end.
Starship said that it has completed 100,000 deliveries with its robots since launch and traveled 350,000 miles, a figure that Bayer says makes it “literally miles and miles ahead” of the competition. In addition to its deliveries on American college campuses, Starship’s robots have been delivering groceries in England. But the biggest growth, for now, is on campus. “The universities are pulling us forward,” Bayer says.