You’ve probably had an encounter with some of our new campus-mates by now. They’re hard to miss with their boxy shape, gentle rumbling wheels, and little waving flags. They’re … the Kiwibots.

They’ve been rolled out recently as a way for students to order food from on-campus restaurants to be delivered directly to the entrance of their dorm. The fleet seems to be growing, as I can’t seem to walk anywhere on campus without passing one of the little buggers. In theory, they seem like a great way for students to get food delivered, but in practice, a vocal portion of the student body has decided the Kiwibots are not welcome. 

Students have put forth various rationales for their hatred of the Kiwibots, but the fact they navigate via multiple cameras with human operators seems to have been an issue for many, and reasonably so. 

When asked about his dislike of our new campus companions, Harrison Madnick ’25, said, “They potentially could pose a risk on the data aspect of things … I’d also appreciate open source info on data collecting to be aware of what they do with the information gathered.”

Even Grace Larence ’25, who explicitly specified that she likes the Kiwibots, said, “I do think that it’s a security risk to some extent, because the camera feeds on the bots will be actively monitored by a person and in residential areas that makes me feel a bit ehhh.” 

In today’s technology obsessed society, worrying how one’s images and data will be used seems like a valid concern. Being on camera, often without their knowledge, is perhaps something students aren’t especially eager to consent to. However, in many respects, we’ve already handed in our privacy in that regard with things like security cameras and the ever present social media trends catching people in candid shots. On the other hand, those who enjoy the glitz and glam of new technology view the Kiwibots as a simple and fun addition to the campus atmosphere. Preston Merrill ’25 said, “If I were to tell my friends who are at different colleges that we have robot servants rolling around our college, they’d think we’d be living at the height of luxury.” I personally will admit that there’s something cool and futuristic about having little robots trundle by me as I stroll to class.

Granted, they’re only so mod and fascinating when they actually work. Some student complaints I’ve heard include the order process being down constantly, the lack of a queue when all the Kiwibots are in use, and even one report that a student saw a Kiwibot nearly get hit by a car while it was attempting to cross the road. Evidently, even if they’re here to stay, the Kiwibots need some basic maintenance here and there to help avoid incidents of vehicular botslaughter. On their general appearance, students seem rather split. Some claim they find their light-up facial displays creepy and unsettling, while others find them cute and charming. The few eye expressions they can display seem to include angry eyebrows, heart eyes, plain, side glances, and a cheerful closed-eye look. 

Students seem to be most perturbed by the Kiwibots angry face and their heart eye look, which, to be fair, are the same expressions we react to most in other people. Yet something in their cutesy appearance seems to upset some students. While we’re certainly not asking that they appear threatening or mean, maybe the Kiwibots could get a makeover so they don’t seem so … infantile. You’d think their adorable appearance would have the opposite effect, but their small and anthropomorphized features seem to only encourage acts of hatred towards them. I recently witnessed a Kiwibot switch to its heart-eye mode as a peer walked past it, only for said peer to briefly glance down at it and say, “Screw you, Kiwibot.” Let’s hope the same kind of response doesn’t hold true for students’ interactions with each other. Also, their headlights can be quite an annoyance, speaking from experience. I occasionally like to take a late evening walk to clear my head, or simply because I’m feeling restless. 

There’s no feeling quite like the bright light of a Kiwibot coming around the corner accompanied by its dogged trundling to take me out of a peaceful state. Overall, a quick poll of my friends revealed that while most of us don’t like them and find them fairly annoying, we struggled to find a solid reason for this dislike besides the technological privacy aspect. We do agree that the Kiwibots could be really helpful for students, and are likely a good addition to campus.