Snack vending has been apparent in schools since the arrival of glass fronted vending machines in the 1960’s and has been streamlined throughout the years to adapt to market trends and innovation. They don’t get much more innovative than this latest development, however, a robot vending machine in the USA known as ‘Snackbot’ that allows students to have their snacks personally delivered to them!
What is Snackbot?
On trial at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, Snackbot was developed by Robby Technologies and partnered by PepsiCo. It consists of a small body perched atop 6 wheels and connects to an app that students can download to their smartphones. The electric vehicle includes a camera and headlights and is capable of travelling up to 20 miles on a single charge, even up hills and in poor conditions such as rain!
Scott Finlow, vice president for innovation and insights at PepsiCo Foodservice, believes students are becoming less inclined to eat three fixed meals a day and Snackbot conforms to the demands of ‘on-the-go’ snacking.
“Whether it is outside a dorm room, outside a lecture hall or outside the cafeteria or library, now students will be able to get food delivered to them. We worked hard to design something so simple that only requires students to download a Snackbot app and plug in their university email.” Finlow said that the trial consists of three robots but that number will increase over time.
Instead of interrupting classes, an obvious problem foreseen with such an idea, Snackbot follows a less intrusive form of delivery. After downloading the app and placing an order, students can select from 50 designated delivery locations across the 175-acre campus.
How can Snackbot helps colleges and students?
Snackbot follows plenty of companies that are embracing food delivery services, such as Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash, all of which extend around the globe. Services like these were developed as students were ignoring college canteens and kitchens and preferred to utilise ‘takeaways’ so to speak. Many were also bringing food on site, but the problem with this was staff had to ensure students were only bringing food on site that they were allowed to. The staff simply weren’t equipped with such a large number of students that chose to do this.
Snackbot is a revolutionary way to help combat the issue. Staff know that the food being delivered is allowed on site and products available to be ordered are the ones found in PepsiCo’s Hello Goodness vending machines. These include common items enjoyed across the pond, such asSmartfood Delight, Baked Lay’sand Pure Leaf Tea. What’s more, retaining the takeaway sort of system means students don’t have to leave campus during break or dinner time, therefore allowing more time for them to get on with their work.
Snackbot. A revolution.
Whilst there doesn’t seem to be any plans to bring this idea to the UK anytime soon, it does show the rate in which ‘vending’ is progressing through innovation. Coinadrink’s Managing Director Roger Williams fondly remembers the early days of snack vending in schools, and you have to take your hat off to companies that are looking to further streamline the process regardless of whether it does indeed catch on. Check out the video below!