By Natalie Wertz
If their artificial intelligence facial expressions and greetings don’t already make you fall in love with them, their deliveries sure will.
A “robotic fleet” known as the Kiwibots are making their way to UF this fall semester, 2022. In partnership with Sodexo, the Kiwbot Delivery Service has implemented “500+ robots” that are active throughout 26 campuses in the United States.
“Students can expect to see 15 Kiwibots around campus this semester,” said Marketing Coordinator for UF Dining Services, Riley McKinniss in an email interview. “They are extremely personable and will greet you each time you pass by.”
President Fell has always advocated for innovative opportunities presented at UF, McKinniss said. As Kiwibot is a new addition to Sodexo’s services, the General Manager, David Harr presented it to the university’s senior staff where the process of implementing the bots quickly fell into plan. McKinniss also said that customer satisfaction played a key role in the decision-making process. “(Sodexo and UF dining services) want to make our customers happy, no matter what it takes.”
“We know that the students here a UF are some of the best,” McKinniss said. “We hope the campus community really takes pride in the Kiwibots and are there to lend a helping hand when necessary.”
Anyone on campus, with a meal plan or not, are able to use the bots. All you have to do is download the new mobile order app, Everyday, which accepts credit card, Apple/Samsung Pay, Derrick Dollars, and meal swipes.
“I’m interested to see if I can order a coffee from Jazzman’s and have it still be hot when it arrives,” said UF junior, Samantha Adkins in an email interview.
The Kiwibots are able deliver from both Jazzman’s on campus, each restaurant in The Refinery, and select stations within Henderson Dining Hall. There is a $2 delivery fee and a 10% service charge that is “significantly cheaper” than other delivery services in the area, according to McKinniss. Those that are enrolled in delivery subscriptions from the bot are exempt from these charges.
McKinniss says the bots are battery powered and charged in the designated Kiwibot office space in the AMU.
“The Kiwibot representatives ensure they are charged and ready to go each day,” McKinnis said.
Adkins said she appreciates the work of dining services to continuously upgrade campus that include the Kiwibots and Henderson Dining Hall’s new design.
“It’s nice to know that the staff is looking to make student life more comfortable,” Adkins stated.
“I’ve seen similar bots around [Bowling Green State University], for example, and always thought it was because it was such a large campus,” said UF junior, Samantha Adkins. “I didn’t expect to see them at [the University of] Findlay because it is smaller but am glad that dining services is always looking for ways to improve the student experience.”
The University of Findlay states on its website about 3,300 students for the last school year. The main campus on North Main Street covers 86 acres, compared to larger universities, like BGSU with a total of 14,988 undergraduate students enrolled in a 1,338 acre campus according the U.S. News & World Report.
Adkins also said she expects students to catch on next semester, because we are still a smaller university. She thinks the Kiwibots are a great hands-off option to get food, specifically for those who are studying late at night, quarantined, or who live in campus houses further away from the dining services. Adkins also expects to see more students using them in the colder months, too, when weather limits the ease of walking to the dining hall.
UF students should expect to see Kiwibot representatives around campus. These representatives will help with any questions or concerns you may have. And, in case of a bot tipping over or getting stuck, these representatives will arrive in 3-5 minutes to solve the issue.
Being powered by artificial intelligence, Sodexo and the University ask students to be patient with them this semester and to always reach out with any questions. You can contact @oilereats on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter to express concerns.
“I think the Kiwibots are a great addition and show the desire of Findlay to always improve and be up to date with technology,” Adkins said. “It might take a little bit for people to adjust to the new bots but regardless of if you use them, they’ll still be fun to see driving around campus.”