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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

OPINION: The WSU food robots should only be used in circumstance

Jacinda Hall
The Starship food delivery robot is a new innovation that was intoduced to Wichita State in Fall 2023. The robot delivers food from restaurants in the RSC to your current location on the Starship app.

This year, Wichita State has many little six-wheel robots rolling around campus. They’re for people who would like their food brought to them. I see that this can work well, but not without fallacies. 

Someone cannot simply walk up to a robot, open its top and take out what’s inside. (I tried to do that when I came across two of them.) The customer has to order their food through the Starship Technologies Food Delivery app. 

The app is simple yet expertly executed. First, the customer must set a location to meet the robot at. The app allows the customer to choose a spot along any walkway on campus. Second is a plethora of options from Freddy’s, Panda Express, The Market at Groundhouse, Starbucks, Tu Taco, Black and Gold To Go and Cargill Café. They select their meal and checkout with an additional reasonably priced $2.49 delivery fee. Finally, you select a location and meet up. 

The Downside of the Robots

The biggest misfortune of this system is a robot will not arrive for about 25 to 45 minutes, depending from which establishment the customer ordered from. Of course, it makes sense: the meal has to be prepped, put in a robot, then issued to the meetup spot. 

This problem solely lies on the robots traveling 3.7 mph, just slightly above walking speed. Since they travel all over campus, it makes sense they wouldn’t go too fast. But I feel they can, and should, feasibly travel faster than 3.7 mph to make the system worth it. Perhaps they can be set to jogging speed (about 5-7 mph) and above, but not over 10 mph to ensure safety. 

I feel this could work, because from what I’ve observed, when something suddenly enters a robot’s path, it brakes and stops in place. If they were to go around 7 mph, they will travel with more conserved time. Also, if someone accidentally steps in front of one, the robot will still throw on its brake and stop just as quickly as at 3.7 mph. 

The long wait means there’s only one reasonable option, so you don’t waste money and time: order a meal and set the location about 30 minutes before a class or event ends, so when the customer leaves, they will be guaranteed their meal immediately instead of having to walk a little distance. For everyone else, just go to Shocker Hall, RSC or Braeburn Square to eat, and save yourself the $2.49. 

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About the Contributors
Tyler Guthrie
Tyler Guthrie, Former columnist
Tyler Guthrie was a columnist with The Sunflower. Guthrie uses he/him pronouns.
Jacinda Hall
Jacinda Hall, Reporter
Jacinda Hall is a reporter for The Sunflower. Hall is a senior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Hall hopes to pursue a career in writing, editing or teaching journalism at the high school level after graduation. Hall uses she/her pronouns.

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