Point: Starship? More like StarSHIT
We have all seen them — the creepy, white, bug-like robots that roll around campus from dorm to dorm, getting in the way of students on their way to classes throughout their trips. Some think they are “cute” or “efficient.” But au contraire.
In economic terms, there are more negative externalities than positive externalities when it comes to these contraptions. In other words, THEY CAUSE MORE HARM THAN GOOD. For a Starshit trip to be successful, there must be perfect weather, no traffic and a short distance to travel. Never have I seen a day in Madison where these are all true at the same time.
Intellectuals and dunces can agree — these robots are far from efficient. They stop foot traffic and car traffic (safety hazard), they can never keep food warm, they prolong wait times and they are legitimately stupid. Not to mention you cannot order drinks without spillage because of all the start and stop from these idiot bots.
Here I have listed a scenario that embodies the Starshit robot.
Picture this, you are hungry in your dorm. It’s cold and snowy outside, so it seems like a good idea to order using the Starshit robot. You open the app to order a sandwich. Of course, all the robots are busy right now. You wait 30 minutes, growing hungrier by the second. Finally, a robot is available. You order your food. You wait. And wait. And wait. Where is the robot? It has been at the corner of Park and Dayton for 13 minutes. What the hell is it doing there? You are hangry now. You put your coat on and trudge into the wilderness to see what is going on.
Upon arriving at Park and Dayton, you see that (surprise surprise) your robot has lodged itself into a snowbank. At this point, you are ravenous. You just wanted a sandwich, and now your sandwich is lodged in a snowbank. You pull the robot out of the snowbank and walk back toward your dorm to wait for it because you can’t open the robot to get your food until it has arrived at its destination. When the robot (which had to wait at every street and walkway) eventually arrives, you open the capsule and pull your cold, soggy, sandwich out. Worth the hassle? I think not.
Ultimately, there is not even a question of if these robots are cute — they are not. It is not a question of if they are efficient — they are not. It is not even a question of if they are funny — they are not. It is a question of if they are a nuisance to the University of Wisconsin community — they are.
Counterpoint: Starships = school culture
Listen, Starship robots (SRs) are controversial. I get it, I really do. But what people don’t understand is that they are necessary — not for delivering food, but for campus culture.
Whoever is ordering food from SRs probably shouldn’t have made it into the University of Wisconsin. Walk, bus, bike — do whatever you have to do to get to your food not via a Starship.
You should know that a robot that has to cross a street and stop abruptly will not get you your food intact or in time. And drinks? I mean, come on.
That being said, I am certain the little white robots and their orange flags are a top contributor to UW’s top rankings for university culture. SRs are multipurpose robots, and I will outline these purposes below.
Firstly, Starships are essential for teaching freshmen how to walk. If an SR is annoying you by disrupting your walking patterns, you should ask yourself if you are any different from the robot.
Do you hesitate before stepping into a crosswalk? Do you fail to anticipate the light changing to walk? Do you take awkward pathways through traffic? Do you walk down the middle of the sidewalk?
The answer to all of those questions is probably yes, and you are most certainly not as cute as an SR.
Nobody can compare to the cuteness of an SR. I would rather watch that little guy cross the street than Beyoncé or Miles Teller any day of the week. They aren’t bug-like — they look like a combination of Eve and Wall-E. How could that not be cute?!
Therefore, an SR can get away with crossing the street in a non-efficient manner. Even though they slightly disrupt foot traffic, you can literally just walk around them. And who has ever heard of a Starship getting hit by a car? They hesitate way too much to disrupt car traffic.
Besides, the real hazards are not SRs — they are people. People who throw SRs down flights of concrete stairs and kidnap them to other countries are the problem. Leave them alone!!! They are just here to be helpful and cute and not for you to endlessly bully.
How could you bully something that thanks people for helping it out of a snowbank or that screams when it gets pushed down stairs? There is a special place in hell for those who torment SRs, and I mean that.
Can SRs deliver food? No. But Starships are cute. They teach freshmen how to walk. They make me, and many others, smile when they walk down the sidewalk. These robots are completely necessary for the culture at this university, and that cannot be denied.