Notre Dame implements Grubhub robots for mobile food orders
Notre Dame implemented a new system of Grubhub Starship robots for food delivery on February 8, 2023. Instead of in-person pickup, the robots deliver directly to dorms and other buildings on campus. The robot program falls under the administration of Campus Dining in University Enterprises and Events.
Executive Director of Campus Dining Luigi Alberganti said in a Notre Dame News article, “The fleet of robots will have such a positive impact on campus. They are part of our ongoing effort to bring innovative solutions to Campus Dining, they’ll expand our omnichannel retail strategy and they’ll provide flexibility and accessibility for our students. … They are also going to be a fun addition to our community.”
Current Notre Dame Student Body President Patrick Lee told the Rover, “Student Government is proud to have a fantastic relationship with Campus Dining. When the robots were pitched to us in the summer, we were excited to hear about the forward thinking strategy that the unit was bringing to their efforts to deliver the best possible dining experience. Although the robots certainly take some getting used to, we hope that students appreciate all efforts to bring top quality dining service….”
Student Body President-Elect Daniel Jung gave a statement to the Rover: “On the one hand, they offer increased efficiency and allow students to receive food from the comfort of their dorms. However, on the other hand, some may see them as disturbing the campus aesthetic.” Jung continued, “As Student Body President-Elect and Vice President-Elect, we are committed to working with administration to explore all sides of the issue and find solutions that best serve the needs of our Notre Dame community.”
Others criticized the robots for more than just damaging the “campus aesthetic.” A petition titled “Manifesto Contra Robota” (Against the Robots) voiced a different opinion on the administrative decision to bring the robots on campus. Written under the name “Ned Ludd,” the main points of the original petition were clear: “The campus community should have been asked … The robots are not merely functional … they are a new, for-profit tech venture capitalizing on a new asset: the public, communal space of campus … The robots represent an inappropriate commercialization and privatization of the Notre Dame campus.” The petition was revised on February 22. As of February 27, it has 395 signatures from members of the Notre Dame community.
On February 15, Notre Dame Professor of Political Science Patrick Deneen tweeted in reply to the petition, “I don’t even think that the matter should be debated. Notre Dame leaders should shut down the bots. They are a blemish on our beautiful campus … I also recognize that commercialism is already rife on campus. But that’s no reason not to take a stand somewhere.”
Notre Dame students also voiced their perspectives on the robots. Senior Cam White told the Rover, “I believe the robots’ presence is an inappropriate commercialization of campus and still further will have detrimental effects on the community environment amongst the student population.”
Sophomore Peter Khoukaz echoed this in a statement to the Rover, “They breed laziness; I don’t think they’re a good addition to campus.” An anonymous freshman also voiced her opinion in a statement to the Rover. She said, “I don’t like them because they detract from the beauty of campus and are annoying obstacles on the sidewalk.” Another sophomore agreed, but he added, “While they do show how lazy we are getting; at the same time, they can be helpful for people busy studying and for people with disabilities.”
Currently Au Bon Pain, Garbanzo, The Gilded Bean, Hagerty Family Cafe, Modern Market, and Taco Bell all use the robots to deliver orders. According to Notre Dame News, the number of robots will rise to fifty by the spring, and more campus eateries will use them.
Faculty, staff, or students may order delivery via the Grubhub app. Students may use part of their university meal plan, flex points, to pay for their food and the $3.49 delivery fee.
Michael Canady is a freshman living in Sorin College and tentatively majoring in Classics. Convince him that Latin and Greek are “dead languages,” and email him other major suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: ND News
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