Roaming vending machine snack bots invade a California college campus

Call us old before our time if you want, but it sure seems like students these days are getting lazier. Our proof? That students at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, no longer have to go to the vending machine to get their snacks. Instead, the vending machine comes to them — courtesy of Pepsi’s fleet of roaming Hello Goodness delivery snack bots.

These autonomous robots will deliver an assortment of snacks to 50 locations around the 175-acre campus during daylight hours. The robots can be summoned using an app, and then open up to release their nutritious (or, at the very least, delicious) contents upon arrival. Their on-hand inventory includes Smartfood Delight, Baked Lay’s, SunChips, Pure Leaf Tea, Starbucks Cold Brew, and more.

“We know that consumers today — and especially students — expect and demand more convenient options for great tasting, health-conscious snacks that fit their busy lifestyles,” Scott Finlow, vice president of Innovation and Insights at PepsiCo Foodservice, told Digital Trends. “So we partnered with Robby Technologies to create the company’s first-ever mobile vending machine to provide consumers with not just a new method of delivery for the snacks and beverages they’re looking for, but also a new wave of commerce.”

The robots are designed to travel upward of 20 miles on one charge, are capable of moving across challenging terrain (certainly as challenging as university campuses get), and can navigate in a variety of weather conditions. While Finlow acknowledged that part of the appeal is the fun novelty of having a robot deliver your snacks, he also noted that it offers potential for scale and efficiency by being able to deliver food to more people than a traditional vending machine.

As to what’s next for the rollout? From the sound of things, the University of the Pacific is serving as a test site for the technology. “We’ll be gathering and learning as much as we can about snack bot and the customer experience with it over the course of this spring semester,” he continued. “From there we’ll be able to better evaluate potential future applications and opportunities.”

Between this, mail delivery bots, and rivals like the robots build by Starship Technologies, it seems like 2019 may be the year in which delivery robots finally go mainstream.

Emerging Tech

NASA is building an inflatable space robot named King Louie

NASA is funding an inflatable robot called King Louie which could travel to the stars in deflated form and then be blown up when and where required. Here is why that's so exciting.
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Movies & TV

Two Toy Story spinoffs schedule playdates with the Disney Plus streaming service

Disney's direct-to-consumer streaming video service Disney Plus will launch with an impressive catalog of classic content, new projects, and original shows and movies. Here is everything confirmed and rumored to be coming to the platform.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

SpaceX experiences problem during test, Crew Dragon capsule may have exploded

SpaceX has experienced a problem during the testing of its Crew Dragon capsule. During the engine test firing at Cape Canaveral yesterday afternoon, an unspecified anomaly occurred which lead to plumes of smoke rising from the test site.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.