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While Starship Robots might be successful at GMU, they’ll struggle here at JMU.

According to Upserve.com, 60% of U.S. consumers order delivery once a week, and 31% of those consumers say they use a third-party delivery service at least twice a week. With new developments on the horizon, these numbers are only expected to rise in the years to come. 

In August 2014, a new advancement would soon take the food delivery industry by storm: the Starship delivery robot. It’s a compact, six-wheeled robot that delivers groceries and made-to-order food from nearby restaurants. The first prototype of the Starship robot had just been created and by the next November, the robot was released into the public. It wasn’t until 2019 that the company introduced the Starship robot onto George Mason’s campus, making a name for the company that many people would soon recognize. 

There’s been recent speculation about the testing and hopeful arrival of the Starship delivery robots on JMU’s campus. There’s much excitement about a new and more efficient way of receiving food without having to leave the comfort of a dorm room. However, with existing apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash, it’s important to consider the logistics of bringing the Starship robots onto campus. Given the factors of JMU’s campus layout and the possible destruction of the robots, it’s best that they remain off-campus. 

With the launch of the robots on campus, it’s important to realize that the current drivers of various food delivery companies will be heavily affected. They’ll be replaced by the Starship robots – which can travel up to a four mile radius and can cross streets –and many could lose their jobs. 

There’s also the concern that these self-driving robots may have difficulty navigating campus on their own. In order to solve this problem, there would have to be an assigned person to overlook each individual robot, according to the now-open position on JMU’s student employment page, which can be quite demanding. 

According to a local article by news station WHSV3, many Bird scooters have been recklessly driven and destroyed by students on JMU’s campus. If the Starship robots successfully make their way onto campus, these expensive developments are also likely to be subject to destruction by students, and money will have gone to waste. 

The layout of JMU’s campus isn’t conducive to these pre-programmed bots. Much of JMU’s campus is made up of steep hills, stairs and rough terrain. There’s a significant chance that these robots won’t be able to manage the conditions of JMU’s campus. The robots also rely on using sidewalks for transportation, which means that students could be forced to step off sidewalks and into the road when robots are passing. 

Additionally, many JMU students would agree that the weather in the Shenandoah Valley can be quite unpredictable. The robots are able to navigate through rain and snow, however, extreme wind conditions may pose a serious problem. Moving at only 4 mph and weighing just under 100 pounds, these robots are likely to be affected by heavy wind. 

With new advancements like the Starship robot being created, it’s important to understand that sometimes these expensive improvements may not be worth as much trouble as they may bring. 

Kaylee Cox is a junior media arts and design major. Contact Kaylee at coxkm@dukes.jmu.edu