It could be a glimpse of the future. Grubhub says it will use robots this fall to deliver food orders on college campuses.
The company plans to use small rovers built by Yandex, a Russian company, at 250 college locations. The rovers have six wheels and are about the size of a suitcase. Grubhub has been testing the vehicles at the University of Michigan.
The pandemic has been profitable for food delivery services. Both Grubhub and DoorDash have seen their businesses grow as more consumers have paid extra to have meals delivered to their homes rather than driving to a restaurant for pick up. For the most part, they like the service they get.
“To avoid the cold weather and an unfamiliar city we ordered from Cheesecake Factory using Grubhub,” William, of Andover, Kan., posted on ConsumerAffairs back in February. “We were very pleased with the quick courteous service provided by Grub Hub. The hot food was still hot and the ice cream was not melted. We really enjoyed our meal in the comfort of our hotel room.”
Grubhub is hoping for the same kind of response to its delivery robots. While the robots will cut labor costs the company will have to ensure the food arrives on time and at the correct temperature.
Potential consumer benefit
Consumers may also benefit from robotic delivery. Delivery personnel is the biggest cost for food delivery companies and Grubhub has said it expects to pass some of the savings onto customers in the form of a lower service fee. And customers won’t need to tip the robot.
DoorDash is also moving into robotic delivery. It’s acquired the robotics company Chowbotics to deliver salads and poke bowls.
More companies may also begin deploying robots for all types of delivery. One industry analyst told the Wall Street Journal that the pandemic didn’t start the automated food delivery trend but it certainly accelerated it.