Picture the average campus scene: Large, tall buildings. Student housing nearby. Manicured green lawns. Students and staff walking, hanging out, playing frisbee. And the newest addition?
Robots are popping up in several colleges and universities worldwide. They are yet – and very much unlikely – to replace your professors, but they’re increasingly being used for other means.
Here are several ways they are changing campus scenes around the world:
1. Food delivery
— Cur8ted (@Cur8ted) April 5, 2019
There are many app-based food delivery services, from DoorDash to Uber Eats. But the cutest of them all has to be the army of roaming drones delivering burritos and other delicious morsels across several US campuses today.
KiwiBot at UC Berkeley and CLS, for example, is a two-foot-high cooler on wheels that strolls at a leisurely one mile per hour to your stated co-ordinates. The meal delivery bots at George Mason University are slightly faster, cruising at four miles per hour.
2. Smoothie making
At the University of San Francisco, artificial intelligence is being harnessed in the name of pureeing fruits into delicious beverages. Chef B, as the smoothie-making robot is called, produces 35 to 45 smoothies per hour. The same robot arm also dispenses ingredients, washes blenders, pours smoothies into cups and hands them over to customers. ABC7 News notes there are still kinks in the system and has even sparked a debate over the ethics of such robots winning much-needed jobs over humans.
Located at the University of Illinois’s Engineering Quad is the Yummy Future Robot Café. In the wheeled white cube, a robotic arm works an espresso machine to whip up coffee for customers. All they have to do is select and pay for their drink at the kiosk and collect their coffee from the robot arm. Even though University Police Department Officer Pete Milenkovic told The Daily Illini he drove right past it at first glance, he said its espresso was “one of the better coffees” he’s tasted.
4. Convenience store
— Anne Lochoff (@Lochoffs) July 28, 2017
Singapore’s first-of-its-kind unmanned, cashless convenience store launched at the Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) in 2017. Here, customers can process their own purchases using one self-checkout system for cashless payments, while vending machines provide customers with a variety of ready-to-eat meals. Data and video analytics study shoppers’ behavior and preferences in order to make accurate decisions when replenishing stock. Inventory can also be automatically tracked and replenished using automated software to order stock.
5. Driverless transport
As the test grounds for self-driving shuttles, universities in Singapore, Michigan and Melbourne are seeing full-sized vehicles pottering about their campuses. The University of Melbourne and La Trobe University are among the universities testing these vehicles, using GPS co-ordinates and sensor technology to detect people or obstacles in its path.