MILTON – Curry College students and staff with a craving for late-night munchies can now have snacks and meals delivered to their dorm, common space or other spots on campus by Kiwibot, a robot designed to come to the rescue of those in need of a quick bite.
Kiwibot, a delivery robot, brings food from the school's marketplace to the dorms, offices and academic buildings. The service runs from 8:30 to 11 p.m. nightly and customers can meet the robots at the door to pick up their food.
Curry College is one of the first schools in the area and one of about 30 nationwide to roll out the service, said John Tarin, Kiwibot's Miami-based director of global operations. He said the company hopes to double the number of campuses it serves early next year.
"We really believe they will revolutionize food and package delivery," Tarin said.
The robots resemble a cooler on wheels, but are packed with cameras and other sophisticated technology that allow them to operate semi-autonomously. An LEDdisplay serves as the robot's "eyes."
Tarin said remote operators assist the robots with functions such as crossing streets. The robots roll through the campus at a slow walking speed and can even go through snow.
They have a capacity to carry up to four medium pizzas in their insulated cargo compartment. Tarin said the goal is to deliver the food within 25 minutes of the order being placed.
"We want to be as fast as possible," he said.
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There are 10 Kiwibots at the Curry campus, each used for one delivery at a time. Customers use their cellphones to place orders and pay for them, either through a meal plan or a credit card. The service fee is $2 plus 10% of the cost of the order.
The customers can track the order on their phones and receive a message and a passcode to open the cargo compartment when it arrives at the delivery area.
There are plans to expand the service to deliver packages, books and convenience store items as well. The robots do not transport alcohol.
Since the service rolled out at the start of the fall semester, it has been popular, said Christopher Alger, of Sodexo, the school's food service manager.
"To this point, the response has been great," Alger said. "The students really enjoy it."
Tarin said the company was started in 2016 and is based in Colombia. He said many of the people working for Kiwibot are graduates of engineering colleges in Colombia.
The deliveries have zero carbon emissions, making the delivery service as sustainable as possible, the company said.
Reach Fred Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Curry College students, staff can get food delivered by a robot