As life continues to tumble down the path of a mid- to post-pandemic world, the idea of contactless delivery is enticing to some — partially for safety reasons but also to eliminate hourly wages.
NAU is already paying level one and two employees $12 hourly, per Career Development, compared to Flagstaff’s $15 minimum wage. This gives the university more flexibility in hiring employees and sustaining a realistic financial base.
According to an interview with Starship CEO Lex Bayer, which was conducted by European website Sifted, the unit price of these bots is roughly $5,500 — depending on the order size.
NAU initially purchased a fleet of 30, although this figure grew as operations expanded.
This means there are hundreds of thousands of dollars being used to fund these delivery robots, along with increasing maintenance expenses as the fleet begins to age.
In short, this money can easily be redistributed toward a fund that aims to provide students with an opportunity to deliver food via walking, biking and driving.
Having an employment option much like Instacart or UberEats, wherein the deliverer can choose to log on and work when they desire, would allow for maximum flexibility. This would also provide bountiful opportunities to students who have complex schedules that prevent them from maintaining the normal 9-to-5 work week.
As mentioned by Starship on University of Houston's website, average delivery times for the robots hover right above 30 minutes.
On an 829-acre campus with ample roadways, foot and bike paths and communal housing, response times using human labor can be dramatically reduced.
One last, major concern is inclimate weather as winter approaches in Flagstaff. While snow storms creep in, the ability to deliver on time will be threatened. Giving the job of delivery to a student with a vehicle would lessen this concern as well, ensuring that delivery is possible with the use of reliable transportation.
Although the robots are undoubtedly impressive, the student body should not rely on them to deliver food. Instead, the NAU community should favor giving the responsibility to students looking for work.