Snackbots to satiate students with delivery of snacks on demand
PepsiCo has gotten into the robotic delivery business as its Hello Goodness subsidiary and Robby Technologies team up to operate a team of self-driving vending wagons on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton, California. Operated through a downloadable app, the small fleet of "snackbots" can deliver a variety of cold food and beverages to students on demand.
Delivery robots aren't exactly new. For years, pilot programs have been launched all over the world as municipalities wrestle with the rules and regulations that would allow robots to share the pavements with pedestrians. This is one reason why college campuses have been a favored venue, as they are a small, controlled environment suitable for testing delivery robots and one where it's easier to get permission.
But where these latest snackbots differ is that it marks the first time that a major US food and beverage company has got into the game. Part of the expansion of the Hello Goodness strategy of marketing healthier snacks through convenience vending devices at 50,000 locations by the end of 2019, the snackbots are designed to cater to students who lack the time or inclination to head to the cafeteria while studying.
According to PepsiCo, the snackbot is an on-demand vendor that's available on campus between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and is alerted through a downloadable app available to those with a University of the Pacific email address. The ordered items are then delivered to one of 50 designated sites on the 175-acre (72-hectare) campus.
Each robot carries enough charge to cover 20 miles (32 km) before needing a top up. In addition, they have cameras and headlights that let them navigate at night or in the rain, while the all-wheel drive allows them to negotiate curbs and stiff inclines.
"We're thrilled to launch our Hello Goodness autonomous delivery snackbots and reimagine college snacking for the future," says Scott Finlow, Vice President Innovation and Insights, PepsiCo Foodservice. "PepsiCo has a unique opportunity to better serve today's ambitious college students, by joining together the power of the Hello Goodness portfolio with our expertise in design and equipment innovation."
The video below introduces the snackbot.