Drinks and snacks via autonomous delivery drone? Pepsi’s making it happen. The food and beverage conglomerate recently collaborated with a Bay Area company — Robby Technologies — to deploy a fleet of self-driving robots on the campus of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.
“We’re thrilled to welcome [S]nackbot to our campus, along with its convenient and nourishing options,” Matt Camino, director of ecommerce at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, said. “This innovative technology from PepsiCo is enhancing campus life for our students, staff and faculty alike, who have embraced this new way of snacking from Pepsi.”
The delivery bots — dubbed Snackbots — are stocked with Pepsi products like Smartfood Delight, Baked Lay’s, SunChips, Pure Leaf Tea, Bubly, Lifewtr, and Starbucks Cold Brew. They have a range of more than 20 miles on a single charge, and pack a camera with headlights that enable allow them to navigate autonomously in darkness or inclement weather, plus all-wheel drive capabilities for handling steep hills.
Peckish students can place orders with an ordering app for iOS between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., then designate a delivery area — one of 50 across the college’s 175-acre campus.
“We’re thrilled to launch our Hello Goodness autonomous delivery [S]nackbots and reimagine college snacking for the future,” Scott Finlow, vice president innovation and insights at Pepsi, said. “Pepsi 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 Snackbot’s debut comes hot on the heels of Serve, a robot designed in-house by Postmates’ X lab. Serve, like Snackbot, can autonomously navigate sidewalks and city streets, and can carry up to 50 pounds for 25 miles on a charge.
Pepsi and Postmates are far from the only firms attempting to nab a slice of the lucrative autonomous delivery market, which is filled with well-funded startups like Marble, Starship Technologies, Boxbot, Dispatch, and Robby, to name a few. Indeed, the McKinsey Institute forecasts that driverless rovers like Serve will make up 85 percent of last-mile deliveries by 2025.
That’s not to mention companies like Nuro, which teamed up with grocery giant Kroger for self-driving grocery deliveries in the U.S. this summer; Robomart, which recently announced plans to test its driverless grocery store on wheels; Udelv, which partnered with Farmstead in the Bay Area to transport perishables to customers’ doorsteps; and Ford, which is collaborating with Postmates to deliver items from Walmart stores in Miami-Dade County.
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