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Ordering food from Campustown? There's now an app (and robot) for that

The new "Braves Delivery" Ottobot from Pringle Robotics is seen here outside their Campustown office.
Tim Shelley
The new "Braves Delivery" Ottobot from Pringle Robotics is seen here outside their Campustown office.

If you were anywhere around Bradley University during the sleepy summer months, you've probably caught a glimpse of those big, boxy robots on four wheels navigating their way around the campus.

That was the dry run for the new Braves Delivery service launching next month. Pringle Robotics head of corporate marketing Amanda Kuebler said they've worked with Ottonomy since January to bring the technology to the Peoria area.

"They are food delivery robots. So they will deliver food up to a mile or two from the restaurants around Campustown. We're working with a few of them and hoping to work with more in the future," Kuebler said.

Food will be ordered via an app not dissimilar to DoorDash or Uber Eats. Upon receiving an order, an OttoBoT will be dispatched to participating restaurants to pick up the meal and deliver it to the customer.

Robots with a Peoria Police Department wrap made their debut distributing water to the public last month.

"We kind of tested this trial by fire during the 4th of July event. There were a lot of people, and no one got run over," said Kuebler.

She said the OttoBoT is "relatively autonomous" and usually stops within a few inches of a person, object, or vehicle. The robot is equipped with 360 degree cameras, and it also has tenders who can intervene remotely if something goes awry.

The OttoBoT can carry up to four different orders at any one time. Each compartment comes with its own code to avoid order mix-ups or stolen meals. Pringle Robotics will handle the maintenance on the robots, not restaurants.

The screen on the front of the robot can display advertising, but it can also be used as a mobile information center to help people locate public restrooms and other amenities.

Kuebler says the River City will serve as a sandbox for the delivery robot concept.

"Peoria is kind of our first demo. If it plays in Peoria, right? So we're looking to test it here," Kuebler said. "There are going to be more; we have more coming in. And when we launch we hope to have three around the Bradley campus, and a few more down by the riverfront. So we hope to expand from there."

She hopes to see Braves Delivery launch by September.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.