Here's a tricky scenario: What do you do if you are a super lazy
person and happen to find yourself out of the house, maybe attending a
concert or a street festival, and you feel a twinge of hunger or a bit
of dryness in your throat?
Sure, you could walk around and find
someplace to buy a candy bar or a soda, like some ancient hunter-gather
seeking out sustenance in the savanna.
Or, you could embrace the
future and hail a vending machine with an app on your phone, then sit
back and wait as your calories come to you.
A Chinese company is
working on filling this massive white space of consumer demand, revving
up to roll out a pilot project of self-driving vending machines in the
U.S. in early 2019. PerceptIn, a robotics company focused on building
machines that see, interpret, learn and take action, calls its robo
vending machine the DragonFly Intelligent Advertising Vehicle. The robot
is expected to cost around $40,000 and is designed to operate in
low-speed scenarios and intended for centralized areas such as
convention centers, corporate and educational campuses, amusement parks
The DragonFly vehicle can be hailed by a person using
their mobile device or stopped when people see it rolling by. The
vending machine also will capture data about how consumers engage with
available products, using advanced computer vision and robotics
According to PerceptIn, a DragonFly was able to
attract more than 1,000 viewers within a 15-minute test run in a
commercial complex. The tech company also claims that approximately 58
percent of those viewers spent more than five seconds looking at the
advertising displayed on the machine.
The self-driving vending machine readies to make its U.S. debut amid a huge surge in outdoor mobile and digital advertising. Out-of-home advertising revenue is expected to hit a high of $7.4 billion this year, according to Magna Global, up 3 percent from last year.
designed the DragonFly Intelligent Advertising Vehicle as a way to
bring intelligence to an area of advertising and retail that had little
to none," PerceptIn Chairman Shaoshan Liu said in a press release.