Robot campus delivery: PepsiCo launches self-driving robots for better-for-you snacks


07 Jan 2019 --- Snackbot, PepsiCo’s snack delivery robot created in collaborative partnership with Bay Area-based Robby technologies, is now delivering nutritious snacks to students attending the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, US. In an effort to make better-for-you snacking convenient, the outdoors, self-driving robots deliver snacks and beverages from Hello Goodness, a curated portfolio of better-for-you brands from PepsiCo.

As of last week, there are three fully operational snackbots at the California campus and the fleet of delivery robots is expected to grow to five snackbots, depending on the demand. 

“We’re excited to welcome snackbot to the University of the Pacific and partner with PepsiCo on such an innovative experience. Our students, faculty and staff now have vending snack options that come to them when they want it,” Matt Camino, Director of e-commerce at the University of the Pacific, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

Click to Enlarge“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 at PepsiCo Foodservice. 

Camino says anyone with a Pacific email address and an iPhone will be able to download the snackbot app, place an order, and pay with the credit card of their choice. 

Students can order food and beverages from 9am to 5pm, using the snackbot app. The robots can deliver to more than 50 designated areas across the 175-acre Pacific campus. 

“Beyond the novelty of automated snack delivery, we truly feel this is a service that will benefit our campus community,” Camino adds. 

The hectic schedule and workload of most college students have increased the need for faster and on-the-go meals. Opting for quick solutions, students often do not choose healthy foods. The Hello Goodness range that the snackbot is offering may allow students to choose healthy snacks that are delivered in a fast and easy manner. 

PepsiCo’s Hello Goodness line includes options such as Smartfood Delight, Baked Lay's, SunChips, Pure Leaf Tea, bubbly, LIFEWTR and Starbucks Cold Brew.

The bots are “ready to roll” with a range of more than 20 miles on a single charge. They are equipped with a camera and headlights that allow them to see and navigate carefully in full darkness or rain, as well as all-wheel-drive capabilities for handling curbs and steep hills.

Click to Enlarge“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,” Finlow says. 

“Our hope in launching the snackbots with healthier snacking options is that it would help our students meet their desire to eat better throughout the day if their snack options were easier to acquire and healthier,” Camino comments.

Building on the initial successes of its Hello Goodness vending platform, PepsiCo has expanded the idea of curated convenience into new formats, locations and experiences to deliver 50,000 touchpoints by the end of the year. The snackbot is part of this effort, offering 24/7 healthier solutions to fuel the always-on consumer.

“We are always open to innovations our vendor partners bring to the table to help fuel our students so that getting their food takes less time,” Camino concludes.

AI is increasingly becoming an area that the industry is looking into, in favor of comfort and of course its “futuristic” selling point from a marketing aspect. 

Last year, the Coca-Cola Company launched a new vending machine concept in China that uses AI technology such as facial recognition and sound interaction to provide an interactive experience to the consumers.

By Kristiana Lalou

This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst's sister website, PackagingInsights.

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