Carry the Robot Makes a Debut at Menlo College

Carry the Robot Makes a Debut at Menlo College

In the center of Silicon Valley where imaginative talent is de rigueur, it is not unusual to meet guests of Menlo College who are developing innovative solutions in technology. But when an autonomous vehicle rolls in for a pilot project on campus, that’s a cause for a double-take.

The vehicle, nicknamed “Carry,” is the brain-child of Stav Braun, Uriah Baalke and Sonia Jin, who started working on Dispatch just nine months ago. The group of three techies trained at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania in robotics and artificial intelligence, and met at Floored, a software services company for real estate. The idea for an autonomous delivery infrastructure was born while they were discussing trends in logistics. They founded Dispatch, a company named after the way the self-driving vehicles will work within the automated infrastructure.

“Currently, our group is deploying our autonomous vehicle for trials at Menlo College and CSUMB,” said Baalke. “Our robot will deliver mail on Menlo’s campus during a six week trial period.”

“We’ve received nothing but excited feedback from countless focus groups and surveys,” said Braun. “We’re looking forward to working with Menlo students. Staff members at the College need only program in a particular building name and the robot will know how to get there for a mail delivery.”

Personal helper and service robots have been in development for some time. Robots like those made by Savioke provide room service deliveries for use in the hospitality industry.

The robot caused an immediate stir of interest on campus. Student Tyler Diamond ‘18, who drives for Doordash, a food delivery service as a part-time job thought it would make his job easier if he could deliver to a robot. Ashley Ayala ’17, Bianca Gonzalez ’18, and Valerie Nuding ’17 all imagined that it would be very useful if it could bring “professors and books” to them too.

Student entrepreneurs Pietro Cristofari ’16, Mike Lenchick’16, and Caitlyn Bankes ‘16 are working on a business plan for smart luggage in their capstone entrepreneur class. All three students plan to network with the inventors.

“I’m very impressed with the ingenuity of Dispatch,” remarked Professor Roy Blitzer, as he marveled at the new age functionality of Menlo College’s latest visitor. Sporting a wrap-around neon light and clean lines, Dispatch offers a streamlined alternative to the golf cart now used to deliver campus mail.