Robot food delivery launches at the University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame, Grubhub and Starship Technologies are introducing robot delivery via Starship’s fleet on campus.

During the initial launch, Starship’s fleet of up to 30 on-demand robots will deliver from six campus eateries: Au Bon Pain, Garbanzo, The Gilded Bean, Hagerty Family Cafe, Modern Market and Taco Bell. The University’s more than 17,000 students, faculty and staff can now use the Grubhub app (iOS and Android) to order food and drinks from on-campus retailers to be delivered nearly anywhere on campus, within minutes. The service also works in conjunction with students’ meal plans. By spring, the robot fleet will reach 50 and will service additional Campus Dining eateries.

“We are thrilled to partner with Grubhub and Starship Technologies to bring robot delivery to our students, faculty and staff on campus. The robots will provide increased accessibility to our campus units by conveniently bringing the food to our customers, filling a void in the service that we currently have,” said Luigi Alberganti, executive director of campus dining.

Robot delivery is easy to use via the Grubhub app. To get started, diners open the Grubhub app and choose from a range of restaurants labeled “Offers Robot Delivery,” and then select the location to send their delivery. They can watch via an interactive map as the robot makes its journey to their location. Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert to meet and unlock the robot through the app. Each robot can carry the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods.

“We’re excited to bring robot delivery to Notre Dame’s campus and continue supporting innovation within its campus dining program,” said Adam Herbert, senior director of campus partnerships at Grubhub. “Robot delivery is a natural progression of the work we’ve been doing with Notre Dame for years. This includes offering mobile ordering, Grubhub Ultimate, a kiosk solution and pickup capabilities within the football stadium via lockers.”

Grubhub partners with more than 270 college campuses across the United States to give students the ability to integrate meal plans directly into their Grubhub account and access restaurants both on and off campus for delivery and pickup.

“We’ve been expanding our relationship with Grubhub and are pleased to announce that Notre Dame is our latest collaboration,” said Chris Neider, vice president for business development at Starship Technologies. “We know the campus community will appreciate the convenience of on-demand deliveries, whether it’s to save time or to avoid some of the seasonal weather. The robots don’t mind the weather, regardless of rain, sleet or snow.” 

In the fall of 2022, leadership within University Enterprises and Events worked with Starship to map delivery routes across campus. The group then collaborated with the Division of Campus Safety and University Operations to make sure everyone was familiar with the new initiative and that it met the standards of safety on Notre Dame’s campus. The robot delivery will not displace any of the associates within the Campus Dining department, but will instead increase operational productivity for team members.

“The fleet of robots will have such a positive impact on campus. They are part of our ongoing effort to bring innovative solutions to Campus Dining, they’ll expand our omnichannel retail strategy and they’ll provide flexibility and accessibility for our students,” Alberganti said. “They are also going to be a fun addition to our community.”