Former Airbnb Executive Brings Robot Food Delivery to College Campuses

The robots deliver pizza, sushi and coffee in 30 minutes.

Lex Bayer
Lex Bayer, former head of business development at Airbnb, is heading robot delivery service Starship. Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb

College students will soon have yet another way to order late night snacks.

Starship Technologies announced the debut of its self-driving robot delivery service, just in time for back to school season. The startup promises to fulfill orders of pizza, sushi and even Starbucks in just 30 minutes, for a fee of $1 to $2. However, it will not offer alcohol delivery.

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The rollout is planned for more than 100 American campuses over the next two years. The launch will include the University of Pittsburgh, Purdue University and George Mason University, with more being added in September.

The company hopes to achieve its ambitious goals of dominating campus food delivery thanks to over $42 million Starship Technologies raised in the past year. According to the company, the robots “drive autonomously 99% of the time to make safe and environmentally friendly curb-side deliveries from a local hub.”

Starship Technologies' delivery robots arrive at college campuses this fall.
Starship Technologies’ delivery robots arrive at college campuses this fall. Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

Co-founded by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, Starship’s AI-powered robots will be arriving onto a crowded automated food delivery scene. Meanwhile, CEO Lex Bayer, who came on board last year, is an AirBnb (ABNB) veteran executive who served as its head of business development and Airbnb for Business, among other roles.

Bayer told CNBC that Starship’s robots have an advantage over competitors due to their ability to navigate often-congested college campuses. Not to mention, local robots offer students at more rurally-located universities an option for fast item delivery.

“Why buy a wrench online from an e-commerce site that will get there two days later when you can buy it from a local hardware store and have it in half an hour?” Bayer explained.

Starship isn’t the only startup hoping to entice impatient customers with convenient robot delivery. This month, Postmates received approval from San Francisco to test similar sidewalk-dwelling bots for its customer orders.

Starship’s launch proves that more delivery services are foregoing controversial drone use in favor of safer alternatives, like sidewalk robots.

Former Airbnb Executive Brings Robot Food Delivery to College Campuses