Person suspected of making food delivery robot bomb threat at Oregon State University arrested

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — A person suspected of threatening to place a bomb in a robot that delivers food orders on Oregon State University's campus in Corvallis Tuesday has been arrested, officials said.

University officials at lunchtime sent out what they called an urgent alert on X, formerly known as Twitter, that there was a bomb threat in Starship food delivery robots.

“Do not open robots,” the post said. “Avoid all robots until further notice.”

The post said public safety officials at the campus in Corvallis, Oregon, were responding.

The university said about an hour later that the robots had been isolated in a safe location and that technicians were investigating. About 15 minutes after that, officials said on X that the emergency was over.

“All Clear,” the post said. “You may now resume normal activities. Robot inspection continues in a safe location.”

The university’s department of public safety arrested a person believed to be responsible for the threat after investigating, officials said in a statement later in the afternoon. Officials didn’t say whether the person was a student and didn’t release the person’s name.

San Francisco-based Starship Technologies, which makes the robots, said in an email earlier Tuesday afternoon that a student at Oregon State sent a bomb threat through social media that involved the campus robots.

The student has since said it was a joke and a prank, the company said, but added that it had suspended the service while it cooperates with the investigation.

Starship has contracted with the university's housing and dining services since 2020. About 75 robots deliver food to people on campus who order it, university officials said.

“You unlock it, get your food and then off it goes to get sanitized and prepare for another delivery,” Kerry Paterson, director of OSU’s residential dining and university catering, told KOIN-TV in 2020 about the robots.

Starship Technologies said earlier this month that the robots had rolled onto nearly 50 college campuses in the U.S., serving over 1 million students.