Snow, rain, heat, and the darkness of night may not be part of the unofficial slogan that mailmen live by, but in college towns across the country, little six-wheeled delivery machines are battling Mother Nature no matter what she throws at them.
It is possible to order meals and other goods via a smartphone app on hundreds of machines across the country from Starship Technologies.
While the battery-powered machines generally do not require human interaction to fulfill their orders, routes can occasionally be disrupted because they travel on sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly pathways.
Downed trees or a scooter that hasn’t been returned to its rightful place can cause problems for the robot and prompt it to call for help from its command center.
“It will attempt maneuvering first. It will attempt to determine whether or not there is a path around the object,” Neider explained.
The organization stated that while it is uncommon for an operator to become engaged, one is available and close by if assistance is required.
Neider cautioned that the robots, like all delivery systems, are limited in their ability to manage heavy snowstorms or other severe occurrences.
“Because the robot is not equipped with a plow, there are limits. If there is a flood and the roads are closed, and the service region is suffering harsh conditions, we will send the robots home and suspend service,” Neider explained.
According to Neider, a reasonable rule of thumb is that while colleges are running normally, robots are also operating normally.
When schools close due to snowstorms, hurricanes, or other important events, the company takes every precaution to ensure that their operators are not exposed to the machines.
“There are several instances where we shut down and halt the service to ensure the safety of our crew,” Neider explained.