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Robots to the rescue: Machines will soon deliver food in Fairfax City

Starship Technologies' robots already operate on the George Mason University campus.

WASHINGTON — Fairfax City residents should not be surprised if they soon see robots driving around their neighborhood sidewalks.

The Fairfax City Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) recently posted on its Facebook page that Starship Technologies autonomous robots would soon be delivering food, and other items, to customers around town.

The FCEDA post mentioned that they hoped the robots could help connect city businesses more directly with local residents during the spread of COVID-19.

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Chris Neider, a member of Starship Technologies' business development team, said the robots would likely hit the ground in Fairfax City the week of April 20.

He said the business hopes its services will support small businesses and residents affected by the coronavirus.

"We're seeing a tremendous need, at this time, especially for contactless delivery," he said.

Customers can use the service by downloading the Starship Technologies app. The app shows users stores that utilize Starship's technology around their neighborhood. 

Once the customer settles on what store to buy from, they can then select the items they need and a robot will make a delivery to their house. 

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Neider says Starship's robots continue to serve students living at nearby George Mason University.

"Some kids just can't go home," he said. "So, we are still running deliveries on George Mason's campus today."

Broad Branch Market, in Northwest D.C.'s Chevy Chase neighborhood, has been using the robots to make deliveries for two weeks, according to owner Tracy Stannard.

"The kids love it, the parents love it, everyone loves them," Stannard said.

She said the robots do more than offer customers a contactless option to receive their groceries.

"It's a great marketing tool," she said. "Now, that the robots are running around the neighborhood, everyone knows that we do delivery." 

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