Students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will soon get the opportunity to experience an innovative form of food delivery service technology.
Kiwibots are robots that, according to the Kiwibot website, autonomously navigate to deliver food.
According to the Kiwibot website, “At Kiwibot, we are building the largest robotic last-mile delivery network, aiming to create a world where technology, logistics and delivery are for all.”
Partnering with Sodexo, Kiwibot services will be accessible through the Everyday app, the new campus app where students can find all of the food options that are offered by Sodexo and their menu items.
Students can choose to order from establishments including The Brew, McAlister’s, Smoothie King and the Ragin’ Cajun Food Court, and before they submit their order, they will have the option to make it a mobile order for pickup or a delivery, where a Kiwibot will then bring the food to anywhere on the main campus.
“The Kiwibots are just kind of a fun and revolutionary way to get your food delivered across campuses,” Renee Burgess, the general manager of Sodexo, said.
There will be 12 active Kiwibots, and the office where they will be stored will be located in the second half of the Ragin’ Cajun Food Court. The robots will be leaving from there to pick up the ordered food and then deliver it to that student.
Students can use various forms of payment including declining balance, credit card and other mobile payment methods. Any student can use the robots as long as they are at the university at the time of the delivery, even if they’re not living on campus.
The athletic side of campus will not be an active site for the Kiwibot delivery service. Kiwibots will not go into academic or residential buildings, so students will need to come out to get their food once it arrives.
According to Burgess, the process started last semester when the Kiwibot team showed a presentation to representatives from campus food services, and from there the team mapped the campus for a few months to understand where and how the robots would be traveling.
“The team evaluated the campus, and they brought some robots initially and let them kind of roll around and meet people,” Burgess said.
Burgess shared how there were a lot of moving parts to this project, including dealing with technology issues and infrastructure needs.
“What we’ve been working on is making sure everything is speaking to each other because we don’t want to start it and not come out of the gate swinging,” Burgess said.
Kiwibots currently service 26 college campuses in the United States, according to their website. Burgess shared how UL Lafayette would be the second university in Louisiana to have this delivery service, with Tulane University being the first.
The university plans on having the Everyday app and the Kiwibots accessible to students by the end of January.
“So we are kind of where we need to be to be able to start rolling everything out,” Burgess said. “We’re going to start with that first round of retail units to really kind of get our feet under us. And then before the semester is over, hopefully you guys will see it in all of our retail units.”
Burgess said the university is consistently looking for ways to keep up with the times for students.
“I’m just excited that we are able to bring something new and exciting to the students. We are working nonstop to bring innovation,” Burgess said.