Oregon State University sparked panic on Tuesday afternoon when it warned anyone on campus to avoid its food delivery robots due to a bomb threat that was later blamed on a student’s prank. At 3:20 p.m., the school posted on social media, “Urgent OSU Alert: Bomb Threat in Starship food delivery robots. Do not open robots. Avoid all robots until further notice. Public Safety is responding.” The university later said it was “remotely isolating robots in a safe location” and having them investigated by a technician. At 4:40 p.m., the school gave the “all clear” but said the inspection was ongoing. San Francisco-based Starship Technologies, which manages robot food delivery services on several college campuses including OSU, said that an OSU student had sent the threat via social media before claiming it was a joke but the company suspended services nonetheless. The Oregonian reported that the bots “have mapped the campus using GPS and can find locations using a combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and sensors.” The school did not answer inquiries from The Oregonian.
Urgent OSU Alert: Bomb Threat in Starship food delivery robots. Do not open robots. Avoid all robots until further notice. Public Safety is responding.
— Oregon State University (@OregonState) October 24, 2023
An update regarding our robots at Oregon State University: pic.twitter.com/vnidmEMyyG
— Starship Technologies (@StarshipRobots) October 24, 2023