Curry Campus Welcomes Some New Friends

By Grant Catuna, Currier Times Staff////

Kiwibots patiently wait for their customers to pick up their food and drink orders on the Curry campus. Photo by Grant Catuna

MILTON, Mass. — Senior Public Health & Wellness Major, Alicha Hut, watched excitedly as the lid opened. She reached in, grabbing her mozzarella sticks, then headed back into her dorm.

“It was still warm,” she said.

The only difference was that this time, she didn’t have to walk to the Student Center to pick it up. Instead, Alicha’s food was delivered directly to her dorm by Curry’s newest addition to campus, the Kiwibots.

What exactly is a Kiwibot?

Kiwibots are small robots that were designed by a Colombian-owned company called Kiwi Campus– also known as Kiwi–for the purpose of food delivery. The bots are equipped with a thermal insulated bag that has compartments for both food and drink.

After an order has been placed in the bag, the bot closes and locks its lid. It then uses lidar–short for light detection and ranging–in tandem with advanced sensors and cameras that allow the bot to make it safely to the customer. Upon reaching its destination, the Kiwibot will only open once the customer has pressed a button in the app which opens the bot for 90 seconds.

Once an order is placed, an app allows the customer to unlock the Kiwibot to retrieve their food or beverage. Photo by Grant Catuna

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Kiwibots heading into the new semester and that hype has quickly translated into orders.

“The response has been great,” says Christopher Alger, Director of Dining Services. “There’s been some nights they have all ten bots out at once, waiting for them to come back.”

Through Kiwi’s partnership with Sodexo, Curry is now one of 26 schools throughout the U.S. that have welcomed Kiwibots onto campus. The bots have made their way onto a handful of Massachusetts campuses such as Merrimack, Framingham State, Endicott, and of course, Curry.

“I’ve used it four times,” Senior Psychology Major, Brendan Cyr, explains. “But I think if you’re in Scholar’s [Residence Hall] quarantining you shouldn’t have to pay for delivery because you can’t really go anywhere.”

With that being said, Christopher Alger believes that “as it starts to evolve and starts to grow” the bots will only get better with time. As far as what the future holds for the Kiwibots at Curry, Alger was ecstatic while explaining the future possibilities Curry’s newest friend has unlocked.

“We’re exploring options [such as] ‘The Ice Cream Shop’,” he says, “being able to deliver pints of Ben & Jerry’s. Another thing that we’re exploring is the opportunity to deliver Sal’s Pizza… I measured the bot and it will hold five 7-inch pizzas within the
thermal bag.”

With these possibilities in mind, it seems the Kiwibots have found a home at Curry for many years to come. And the blinking eyes showing red hearts and other emojis have added to their fun.

Meanwhile after munching down her mozzarella sticks, Alicha Hut is a convert.

“I’ve only used it once so far but… I’d use it again.” Hut says.

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