With food delivery surging in colleges during 2021 and labor shortages continuing, robots are making major inroads on campuses around the country. Sodexo partnered with Starship Technologies and Kiwibot to put the bots to work at a number of colleges and other university foodservice teams are also jumping on automating delivery.
To wrap up the trends of the year, Starship collected data from its robots tracking what college students ordered in 2021. The results show some expected favorites among the top food and drink items, along with a few surprises.
• French fries, boneless wings, iced coffee and curly fries topped the list among college students in the United States. By region, the Western U.S. ordered the most boneless wings, while it was curly fries for Midwest students. Chicken fingers with fries was the most popular order in the Eastern U.S., with chicken fingers sans the side No. 1 in the South.
• The largest single order was 47 items, but the most orders by one individual was 230—racked up by a hungry diner at Arizona State University.
• Oregon State University led with the most late-night orders between the hours of 10 and 11 p.m., while early birds at Northern Arizona University kept the robots going between 7 and 8 a.m.
• October was the busiest month for deliveries. Halloween candy or pumpkin spice lattes—no details were revealed.
• Starship also operates robots on campuses in the UK. Across the pond, students are partial to milk, bananas, bread and eggs—perhaps indicating a greater love for breakfast.
• Interestingly, pizza didn’t show up as a favorite among students in either country. But in one of the more unique requests, a robot delivered an engagement ring for a customer.