Under mounting pressure to pay human staff the living wage, several Cambridge Colleges have announced plans to invest in robotic porters.
“Of course, in principle, we are totally committed to paying our staff the living wage,” announced Cecil Jones, Domestic Bursar at Trinity College. “But fortunately, following the delivery of a fleet of ten new robotic porters, none of our staff are living.”
The new, state-of-the-art Porter2000s come with a range of features, including bowler hats embedded with solar panels, thermal imaging cameras to detect the presence of more than six people in any room, and laser beams to vaporise students who step on the grass.
In a nod to authenticity, however, developers have also kept some traditional elements, with each robot programmed to recite sarcastic clichés every 10 minutes.
Despite the upfront cost, the multi-million-pound project is expected to save money in the long run due to the eradication of staff salaries. If successful, the scheme could be extended to introduce robotic kitchen staff, bedders, and supervisors in the future.
Across the university, the response to the new robotic porters has been mixed. After apoll revealed that 69% of students “hadn’t noticed a difference,” Kings’ JCR President Emily Milton said that the new porters were “just as cheery and compassionate as the old ones.”
Some student activists, however, have claimed that the project is merely a ploy to distract people from certain colleges’ other morally dubious investments, such as in arms and fossil fuels. In response to claims that Emmanuel College had been “investing in arms”, Bursar Cameron Bridgeworth said: “Of course we’ve been investing in arms. The new supersonic speed Porter2000 robot arms can sort mail into pigeonholes at a rate of 300 letters per minute.”
Despite criticism from students, Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor and Canadian citizen, responded positively when asked about the project.
“With all the savings this project is bringing, maybe one day soon the University will be able to pay us Vice-Chancellors a decent wage!”