The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Starships help students around campus

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Ariana Asrawi
Starship robots congregate on campus at night.

Who knew when the robot revolution started, it would begin by bringing us Starbucks? 

Starships, the little white robots rolling around campus, have integrated themselves into SMU campus life, delivering faster than DoorDash. Best of all, they don’t request tips. 

At any given moment, students could walk alongside a white lunch box on wheels transporting someone’s next meal. No distance is too great a feat for the robots who brave the campus terrain to deliver food and drinks to college students. 

“I call them my children,” said Emily Liss, a senior at SMU and the fleet attendant for the Starships. 

Liss is in charge of gathering all the bots at night to their landing spot called the “hub.” She also cleans them and manages any repairs before “putting them to bed.” Liss is just one out of many students who appreciate the presence of the robots on campus.  

Ordering food from the Starship app is simple. Students can choose from an array of food selections.

Once students complete their order, restaurant staff pack up the deliveries and send them in robots across campus. 

The company launched in Nov. 2015, and SMU is now one of 20 campuses using the Starship fleets. The hospitality group is working on increasing food delivery options while focusing on creating exclusive spaces for robot pickup. 

“We currently have 23 Starship robots delivering food across the campus from 8 a.m. until midnight,” said Mike Esquenazi, the executive director of the SMU Hospitality Group.

“We are always adapting and exploring new ways to deliver value to our SMU family.” 

The robots arrived on campus in the spring of 2022. Since then, SMU students have taken advantage of the futuristic technology that creates an innovative dining experience. 

When sophomore KK Wachtell was sick with strep, a Starship robot came to the rescue. The robot delivered hot Panera soup and grilled cheese to her door. 

“It’s solid comfort food,” she said. “It was great, and the soup was warm.”

The Starships accessibility is appealing. 

Study dates and dorm room hangouts are popular occasions to order in, said Emmy Kay Jensen, a sophomore at SMU. 

“A lot of people at my dorm would order from them last year,” she said. “There would always be one in front of our dorm.” 

Although there are usually several Starships roaming around during the daytime, there is an increase of Starships on campus at night due to the safety benefits, said Senior Sofia Roman. 

“I used to order food from the robots at night from my dorm because I wanted to avoid any possible danger or creepy events happening,” she said.

Roman still enjoys the benefits of the starships. 

“I liked that it’s easy, quick, and convenient, because it just brings you the food whenever you want, whatever time you want,” Roman said.

Esquenazi believes the Starships on campus provide a glimpse into the future of robotics. 

“I think this is just the beginning for autonomous technology as a part of SMU Hospitality,” he said.

“We will continue to explore and develop these types of programs as a part of delivering exceptional experiences.”

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