Online dining giant Grubhub and Russia’s biggest technology company, Yandex, are partnering for robot food delivery on college campuses, the companies announced July 7.
Grubhub currently partners with more than 250 college campuses across the United States to give students the ability to integrate meal plans directly into their Grubhub account and access restaurants both on and off campus for delivery and pickup.
“We chose to partner with Grubhub for campus delivery because of Grubhub’s unparalleled reach into college campuses across the United States, as well as the flexibility and strength of their ordering platform,” Dmitry Polishchuk, CEO of the Yandex Self-Driving Group, said in a statement. “We are delighted to deploy dozens of our rovers, taking the next step in actively commercializing our self-driving technology in different markets across the globe.”
This new multi-year partnership means Grubhub will now provide its campus partners the ability to deploy Yandex robots to reach areas on campus not accessible by cars, for faster, more cost-effective deliveries. The companies will roll out autonomous robot delivery at select campuses later this fall.
“Together with Yandex, we’re changing the way college students experience food delivery,” Brian Madigan, vice president of corporate and campus partners at Grubhub, said in a statement. “We’re excited to offer these cost-effective, scalable and quick food ordering and delivery capabilities to colleges and universities across the country that are looking to adapt to students’ unique dining needs. While college campuses are notoriously difficult for cars to navigate, specifically as it relates to food delivery, Yandex robots easily access parts of campuses that vehicles cannot, effectively removing a major hurdle universities face when implementing new technology.”
Yandex’s robots, called rovers, can make deliveries in pre-mapped areas, navigating autonomously between pick-up and drop-off points. They can operate both day and night, in moderate levels of rain and snow, and in controlled and uncontrolled pedestrian crosswalks.
As the rover approaches its final destination, the diner receives an online push notification with a status update, and when it arrives, they can open the hatch of the rover via the Grubhub app. The diner can then take the food out of the opened rover, close the hatch and let it proceed to its next delivery.
Yandex’s delivery robots are built using the same self-driving technology as the company’s autonomous cars. Since late 2020, Yandex’s rovers have been operating commercially in Russia, delivering thousands of orders from restaurants and grocery stores via the food delivery platform Yandex.Eats and the Yandex.Lavka express grocery delivery platform. Since April 2021, Yandex rovers have also been delivering orders from local restaurants in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“As we looked for a robot delivery partner, we recognized that we not only needed best-in-class technology, but the resources and scale to meet the unique demands of our campus clients,” Sean Ir, director of strategic partnerships at Grubhub, said in a statement. “Yandex was the clear choice, and together we will serve colleges and universities across the country better than ever before.”