PepsiCo testing self-driving vending machine in California

Jan. 3 (UPI) — Several companies are testing self-driving cars around the nation, but on Thursday, PepsiCo started testing self-driving vending machines at a university campus in California.

The company, in a partnership with Robby Technologies, debuted a fleet of self-driving vending machines — or snackbots — to the campus of University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

Students can order their favorite snacks — SunChips, Pure Leaf Tea or Starbucks Cold Brew — using an app and then meet the robot at one of more than 50 locations on campus. Most of the items available from the snack robot are healthier options from PepsiCo’s Hello Goodness.

The robots use six wheels to travel across campus at speeds of up to 6 mph. They weigh less than 80 pounds and stand less than 3 feet tall. They are programmed to stop if a person walks into their path.

Robby Technologies said the robots can travel more than 20 miles on a single charge and can operate in the dark, rain and over curbs and steep hills. Operators will be required to restock snacks and replace the machine’s battery.

PepsiCo started its testing Thursday with three robots on the campus, but plans to expand its fleet to five.

“Snackbot is the next generation of us delivering convenient, healthier products,” said Scott Finlow, vice president of innovation and insights for global foodservice at PepsiCo. “It represents a really important intersection of consumer demands and needs and also the evolution of technology.”

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