Robots Make Food Deliveries In Virginia During Coronavirus

Fairfax City has partnered with Starship Technologies to allow restaurants and stores to use the company’s sidewalk robots for deliveries in a one-square-mile area of the city during the coronavirus crisis. Starting Friday, a number of central Fairfax City businesses will begin sending food and groceries to customers using Starship robots.

Starship’s fleet of 20 autonomous on-demand robots will deliver daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Fairfax City Economic Development Authority has provided a $10,000 support incentive to help lower the average delivery fee charged by Starship to each participating business. The delivery fee for customers will be $2.99.

The service will continue through the coronavirus crisis, and the city will evaluate whether to continue the program after emergency declarations are lifted.

“Starship is an important addition to the city during this time of crisis. It’s an innovative new business that helps directly connect city businesses with city residents while maintaining safe social distancing,” Christopher Bruno, director of the Fairfax City Economic Development Office, said in a statement. “I applaud businesses like Starship for helping to push the local economy forward while fostering innovation — something we strive for here in Fairfax City.”

Residents can download the Starship-Food Delivery app on their Android or Apple device, confirm their address is in the delivery zone, and choose from the current list of participating businesses. Addresses within in the delivery zone have received flyers explaining how the service works and which businesses are included.

Participating restaurants include Havabite Eatery, Coyote Grille, Hamrock’s Restaurant, The Wine House, High Side, and Essential Groceries.

The delivery area is bordered by Roberts Road to the east, Chestnut Street to the west, George Mason University to the south and Fairfax Blvd. to the north.

In early 2019, George Mason University became the first university in the country to launch food and beverage delivery using a fleet of the autonomous robots from Starship. Three years ago, a food delivery service rolled out a fleet of Starship delivery robots in D.C.

Starship also operates its delivery robots in Tempe, Arizona and Mountain View and Irvine, California. In England, the company operates in the city of Milton Keynes, where robots have been delivering food and groceries to local residents since 2018.

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