Tag Archives: robotics

Fresh Food Vending Machines

Consider the humble vending machines. They are virtually everywhere, and we do mean everywhere! We see them in stores, hallways, offices, subway stations, laundry mats, gas stations, and more. Not only are the vending machines convenient, but they are easy to use, can take cash or cards, and consumers do not have to interact with a cashier or sales person. Easy. Fast. Convenient. And, usually not very good eating.

Yes, the common vending machines as just that – common. They have been around so long that they no longer excite consumers. There is nothing particularly interesting, and virtually little food that is healthy for us. When was the last time you looked forward to eating a meal or snack dispensed by a vending machine?

That may be about to change with the advent of new machines that dispense fresh, healthy food in high density locations. Instead of soda, candy bars, and chips, today’s machines carry salads, yogurt parfaits, pudding, specialty coffee drinks, and much more satisfying fare. Not only are the foods better, the service is faster than stopping at a fast-food joint and waiting in long lines. And, as an added bonus, some of the machines will even recycle the packaging to reduce waste.

Here are few of the new alternatives:

  • Farmer’s Fridge – 400+ machines in office buildings and food courts in six states
  • Fresh Bowl – Seven locations in New York
  • Chowbotics – 100 salad robots that build orders from touchscreens
  • Le Bread Xpress – Five bake machines that cook croissants, pizza, and quiche
  • Briggo – High-end coffee cars that make 100 custom drinks per hour

Hungry and in a rush? Let’s meet at the vending machine.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where are vending machines? What do they buy form vending machines? Why do they buy from vending machines?
  2. Divide students into groups. Have each group take an existing vending machine and work out an update for today’s consumers.
  3. Alternative: Show Web sites of new vending machines dispensing fresh food and have a team of students analyze each vending machine and company.
  4. For each company, determine the target market, where it should be located, and the messaging.

Source: Black, J. (13 February 2020). The machine that lets you skip the salad bar. Wall Street Journal.

 

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Snack Robots are Invading Campuses

Robots are invading! Ok, maybe they aren’t exactly invading the entire nation, but they do seem to be infiltrating some college campuses. Rest easy though – these robots seek not to dominate, but instead to satisfy students’ craving for delivered snacks.

The self-driving robots are being tested for “last mile delivery” courtesy of PepsiCo, and have been deployed to serve students at the University of the Pacific’s campus in Stockton, Calif. The robots, developed by robotic company Robby Technologies, carry a variety of healthy snacks and drinks from Pepsi’s ‘Hello Goodness’ product line. Ordering and delivery on campus is easy using an app that is available to all students with a University of the Pacific email address. With a single charge, the robot can travel 20 miles to find a multitude of consumers eager for a quick snack.

The robots do have a normal work hour shift of 9-5 (sorry, no late night munchies) and deliver products to 50 areas around the campus. The robots are equipped with cameras and headlights so that they can navigate in rain and darkness. And, with six-wheels and all-wheel drive, curbs, rough paths, and steep hills can be handled with ease.

Students – are you hungry now?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the impact of robots and drones on marketing.
  2. Show a video of the Pepsi SnackBots: https://youtu.be/skUbYVmRogI
  3. More information can be found at Pepsi’s Website: https://www.pepsico.com/news/press-release/pepsicos-hello-goodness-snackbot-is-off-to-college01032019
  4. Information on the robots from Robby: https://robby.io
  5. Discuss how to build and use a SWOT analysis grid: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (internal and external factors).
  6. Break students into teams and have each team build a SWOT analysis grid.
  7. Based on the analysis, what are the issues and risks that might occur?
  8. Debrief by building SWOT analysis grid on the white board.

Source: Ad Week, other news sources

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Meet Zora, the Robotic Caregiver

Aging is a fact of life. No matter how hard we try to fight it, the years keep adding up and our bodies keep aging. According to MIT’s Age Lab, the world is currently at a historical high of more than 600 million people over the age of 65! By the year 2030, there will be an estimated one billion people over 65, growing to 1.6 billion by 2050.

This growth, while affecting the entire globe, is of primary importance in wealthy countries where spending by and for this age group is in the trillions of dollars. The aging population will also require more caregivers than ever before. But there is a shortage of such people. Creative solutions are needed to address the gap. What can be done?

Meet Zora, the caregiver robot, now a resident of a number of care facilities in France and Australia. Zora can join with care facility residents for activities such as aerobics, singing, playing games, and reading. Although Zora is small in stature, she speaks an impressive 19 languages. And, Zora cares for children as well as adults. Patients develop an emotional attachment to Zora, holding, kissing, and cuddling the robot. More than 1,000 Zora robots have been sold to hospitals and care facilities; pricing is $18,000 per unit.

Of course, Zora is not a substitute for a trained human caregiver or health care worker, but she sure makes people smile!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the business of robotics. Where is it going? Who will benefit?
  2. Show Zora the robot: http://zorarobotics.be/index.php/en/
  3. Videos can be found at Zora’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbT8GS9L_IdYvpCeNRd2gVg
  4. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  5. Have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  6. What are key considerations in each step?

Source: Satariano, A., Peltier, E., & Kostyukov, D. (23 November 2018). Meet Zora, the robot caregiver. New York Times.

 

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