The University of Arizona (UA) is a prestigious public research university located in Tucson, Arizona. Established in 1885, UA boasts a student population of over 50,000 and spans over 392 acres, making it one of the largest universities in the United States.
UA has gained a reputation for its commitment to innovation and the adoption of new technologies across various disciplines, such as space exploration, astronomy, environmental science, biotechnology, and robotics.
The University of Arizona’s team is always on the lookout for innovative ways to enhance the campus dining experience for its students. And when it came to campus delivery, they knew there was room for innovation.
Navigating college campuses can be challenging for traditional human couriers. From one-way streets and congested areas to restricted access zones and strict parking regulations, delivering food by car can be difficult. The University of Arizona recognized that there was an area for opportunity, and robot delivery was identified as a channel that could help solve for a lot of those challenges.
UA also wanted to enhance the convenience and ease of use for the students to access food across the campus. They wanted a solution that would enable students to enjoy the perks of ordering from any corner of campus without the need to walk there themselves to pick up their food.
The ability of the robot delivery system to integrate with the existing food service technology, particularly Grubhub, was a crucial requirement. This integration was essential because the platform already offered an extensive array of dining services, including point of sale, mobile ordering, payments, and smart locker pickup. By incorporating the delivery option into this platform, it would provide students with a seamless and convenient way to receive their food orders.
In addition, the university needed a solution that would allow for swift implementation and scalability. They wanted a company that could hit the ground running, providing the right fleet size to meet student demand and cover delivery needs across the campus.
The University of Arizona swiftly deployed the Cartken delivery robots, bringing their vision to life within a remarkable four-week timeframe. By August 2022, the robots were online and ready to fulfill their first orders.
They decided to start with a fleet of 41 robots to test the demand among the student population of almost 50K. These robots swiftly became an integral part of campus life and seamlessly integrated into dining operations. UA plans to expand the robot fleet to provide even broader coverage and address the increasing number of orders.
By seamlessly integrating with the existing Grubhub app that students were already accustomed to, this implementation brought an added layer of convenience and simplicity to the ordering process, allowing students to maintain their familiar mobile ordering routines. The integration allows students to order, track, and even unlock the robots right from their mobile devices.
To accommodate the widespread coverage required across the campus, the university strategically established 4 pickup locations and 60 drop-off locations. With a network of 12 participating restaurants, students had a wide array of culinary options at their fingertips. The Cartken delivery robots covered 256 acres, ensuring that students from all corners could enjoy the convenience of robotic deliveries.
The implementation of the Cartken robot delivery system in partnership with Grubhub at the University of Arizona yielded impressive results, transforming the campus dining experience and exceeding expectations.
Here are the key outcomes achieved:
More than 50,000 orders were delivered by a robot in a 9-month period, showcasing the widespread gradual adoption and popularity of the robot delivery service among students. Nearly 1K students per week took advantage of the convenience of robot delivery.
“The students are over the moon by robots. We find that students might order a Coca-Cola just to get a delivery from a robot. They love seeing them. They want to give them a hug. They try to pet them sometimes like they're their pets.”
- Christine Carlson, Director of Dining & Nutrition
Student engagement with the robot delivery service has been impressive, with 75% of students who use Grubhub app placing orders via robot delivery more than once. Additionally, 45% of those students ordered five times or more, and 1.5% placed 60 or more orders. Remarkably, one student has really taken to the robots and has placed a school record of 120 orders!
The median driving time for the robots was an impressive 12 minutes and 55 seconds. By leveraging robot delivery, the University of Arizona has significantly reduced the time it takes for students to get their meals.
Cartken's robot fleet traveled a total distance of 313 miles on average per day, with each robot covering an average distance of 8 miles per day. This efficient utilization of the fleet ensured widespread coverage across the expansive campus.
Additionally, the robots hit a record of 444 deliveries in one day, demonstrating the system's capacity to handle high volumes of orders seamlessly. Cartken's reliable autonomy system is the key factor behind this accomplishment. It leverages cutting-edge computer vision and AI technologies to intelligently choose the most efficient routes and execute deliveries with minimal dependence on human operators, setting them apart from other players in the campus delivery landscape.
“The reduced cost for us is no requirement to open additional dining locations across campus.”
- Christine Carlson, Director of Dining & Nutrition
Robot delivery allows UA to fill the gaps in restaurant density and dining locations without the need for physical expansion. The flexibility of Cartken and Grubhub systems enables UA to easily add new pickup and drop-off points, expand delivery routes, and provide better coverage across the campus. This not only enhances the convenience for students, but also optimizes operational efficiency and resource allocation.
These results demonstrate the University of Arizona's successful implementation of the Cartken robot delivery program through the Grubhub’s On Site Campus solution, effectively streamlining the campus dining experience, enhancing convenience, and exceeding student expectations. The high order volume, exceptional customer engagement, quick delivery times, and extensive coverage across the campus validate the positive impact of the robot delivery service on the university community.