Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Delivery company Grubhub Inc. plans to roll out food-delivering robots across U.S. college campuses from this fall, as automation grows in a sector turbocharged by the pandemic.

Grubhub will deploy the suitcase-size rovers built by Russian tech company Yandex NV to some of the 250 colleges across the U.S. that Grubhub already operates in, the companies said Tuesday. The six-wheeled autonomous rovers have been tested in recent years on the snowy streets of Moscow, delivering food, groceries and documents. Since April, the robots have also been delivering orders from local restaurants in Ann Arbor, Mich., as part of a trial.

The pandemic has boosted the food-delivery business, sparking interest from some companies to automate parts of their operations. The use of robots and drones is aimed at cutting labor costs, one of the biggest hurdles on the path to making delivery profitable. Earlier this year, DoorDash Inc. acquired robotics startup Chowbotics, whose technology can whip up salads and poke bowls.

In recent years, companies have started to test robotic deliveries in trials and smaller rollouts.

San-Francisco-headquartered Starship Technologies Inc. has been expanding its U.S. college-campus delivery, while in Sacramento, Calif., Nuro LLC’s robots have been shuttling food, fresh linens and personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

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