Traveling Vending Machines Come to Pacific

Traveling Vending Machines Come to Pacific

This semester at Pacific, eating healthy will be more convenient than ever before. New to campus this spring is PepsiCo’s snackbot: the first robot to function as a food delivery service for a major food and beverage company. This innovation was developed by the Bay Area-based company Robby Technologies and stocked by Hello Goodness, a subset of PepsiCo devoted to providing low-calorie options, such as Smartfood Delight, Pure Leaf Tea, SunChips, and LIFEWTR.

The robot made its debut at Pacific due to PepsiCo’s history of providing food and beverages to the university. Matt Camino, director of eCommerce at UOP and Pacific alumnus, has said that the project was motivated by the observation that busy students often have few options when it comes to healthy snacks. “We’re thrilled to welcome snackbot to our campus, along with its convenient and nourishing options,” Camino stated.  “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 PepsiCo.”

Currently there are four snackbots at Pacific, each set to roam in a different corner of campus. Together, the snackbots deliver to 50 designated areas across campus. Their unique battery allows them to travel over 20 miles on a single charge. Steep inclines and curbs are no trouble for their six wheels, and a sensor enables them to stop when someone or something is in front of them. The robots are also equipped with headlights and a camera, so they can navigate through darker conditions and bad weather. Their top speed of 6mph means they can make their deliveries in 5 minutes or less.

The snackbots are set to operate Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 5PM. Orders must be made on the free snackbot app, which is now available on all iPhone operating systems. Access is currently limited to anyone who can provide a valid UOP email address.

Placing an order is similar to operating a courteous vending machine. The app will present the user with a menu, from which they can select as many items as they please, before asking them to pay with either a credit card or Apple Pay. After an order is made, one must select one of the snackbot’s pre-programmed “Delivery Zones.” Once the robot reaches one of these locations, students will be prompted to unlock the hatch via the app. The snackbot will wait a maximum of ten minutes before rushing to meet the next customer. They are periodically refilled and recharged by three employees who were recruited through TigerJobs.

So far, the snackbots’ user-friendly features have made them popular among the student body. “It’s a convenient way to snack on the go,” says Lauren Davies, a junior psychology student at Pacific. “It’s great to have healthier options on campus.”

Camino has stated that the total number of snackbots will eventually increase to a fleet of ten. It’s currently unknown if making an equivalent app for Android devices is a possibility.

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Jo Ann Kirby