Coca-Cola explores robot delivery service
Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) is piloting robotic technology to deliver its products at Alton Towers Resort in the UK, as part of its Ventures innovation investment fund.
CCEP Ventures is working with autonomous driving experts TeleRetail to test this state-of-the-art technology to help fulfil the rapidly growing need for effective logistics solutions. During the trial, the robot will collect products from the Alton Towers distribution centre and deliver them to drinks outlets across the park, using artificial intelligence to manoeuvre around the thousands of visitors during the peak summer season.
The robot travels at 3mph and distances of up to 50km. It is equipped with GPS technology, sight, sound and motion sensors to safely navigate around people and objects. It also uses laser sensors to judge the distance to potential obstacles, enabling it to stop safely and avoid collisions.
Leendert Den Hollander, vice president and general manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “We are seeking out leading-edge technology start-ups and helping them to grow through access to expertise and the opportunity to test and refine their innovative solutions.
“The TeleRetail robots are a perfect example of how we are trialling technology that could enable 24/7 on-demand logistic services and eventually be something that can be scaled up to larger vehicles.
“By developing technology, solutions and processes, we can improve the way we operate, to better serve our customers and consumers – now and in the future.”
Neil Crittenden, commercial director at Alton Towers Resort, said: “Our business has been built on innovation so we’re thrilled to be hosting this trial. From developing ground-breaking rollercoasters to exploring the best way to serve customers across our 500 acre site, we are always on the lookout for new ideas.
“If the trial is successful, there are many potential applications for this technology at Alton Towers. Who knows, in the future guests may be able to order drinks from the queue line to be delivered by robots when they finish a ride, or we could see automated room service deliveries across our 700 hotel rooms. The possibilities are huge.”
Xenia Scholl, co-founder of TeleRetail, said: “This is a fantastic location to test our robot and showcase how it can make safe decisions when delivering in a very busy place.
“The robot is set to drive at pedestrian walking speed in the park during the pilot project. It’s exciting to see how park visitors positively react to the robot and interact with it.
“Our self-driving technology inside the robot is called Aito. It drives the robot autonomously and is constantly being advanced for use at higher speed in vehicles of different sizes. It uses satellite images for navigation and is developed with the support of the European Space Agency.
“Seeing our robot at work in this magical setting full of innovative machines and experiences is really exciting and certainly sparks the imagination for future uses of the technology.”
This is one of three pilots taking place in industrial, retail and pedestrian environments – to capture data and improve the quality of the software. In the future, the software could be used on different sized vehicles to solve a range of delivery problems. If successful, the trial could change the way CCEP delivers products to its customers and transform the experience of Alton Towers’ consumers.