Autonomous delivery robot becomes center of bomb scare ‘joke’

Starship Technologies robots are making deliveries. Customers place orders via the app and the robot delivers them into a secure compartment. Starship Technology

A bomb threat involving a wheeled delivery robot on the campus of Oregon State University turned out to be a joke after the arrest of a suspect was reported.

Officials at the campus in Corvallis, about 70 miles southwest of Portland, sent an urgent message Tuesday telling students to stay away from the Starship robot, which delivers food orders to students and staff across the site.

“Don’t open the robot,” the social media post said. “Avoid all robots until further notice.”

Urgent OSU Alert: Bomb Threat to Starship food delivery robot. Don’t open the robot. Avoid all robots until further notice. Public Safety responded.

— Oregon State University (@OregonState) October 24, 2023

The warning was in response to a threat from someone who stated that explosives had been placed inside one of the autonomous robots, according to Associated Press.

About an hour after the alert, the university confirmed that the robots had been taken to a remote location where the inspection was carried out. A few moments later, the incident was declared over after an inspection did not find anything suspicious in the machine.

A suspect was later arrested, although officials have so far refused to reveal whether the person had any close ties to the college or the wider university.

However, Starship Technologies said in a statement that the bomb threat was sent via social media by an Oregon State University student who claimed it was made as a joke.

“A student at Oregon State University sent a bomb threat, via social media, involving Starship robots on campus,” the statement said, adding: “Even though the student later stated that this was a joke and a prank, Starship suspended the service. . Safety is of the utmost importance to Starship and we are working closely with law enforcement and the university throughout this investigation.”

About 75 Starship robots have delivered food to people on the Oregon State University campus over the past three years, and in May the company announced that its global fleet had made about 5 million deliveries since its launch in 2014.

A number of companies have developed similar autonomous delivery robots, including Serve Robotics, which recently expanded its partnership with Uber Eats to deploy more than 2,000 robots at locations in the US and Canada over the next year.

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