The AI technology has been developed with the support of the European Space Agency, and Coca-Cola says the technology could eventually be scaled up to larger vehicles.
The robot can collect products from the Alton Towers distribution centre and deliver them to drinks outlets across the park, using AI to manoeuvre around visitors. Travelling at 3mph (4.8kph), the robot is equipped with GPS technology; sight, sounds and motion sensors to navigate around objects; and laser sensors to judge distances.
Alton Towers features seven world-case rollercoasters including Oblivion and Nemesis. Neil Crittenden, commercial director at Alton Towers Resort, said: “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.”
Satellite images for navigation
The technology has been developed by autonomous driving company TeleRetail, and Coca-Cola’s trial will test the technology in a unique, high traffic situation.
Xenia Scholl, Co-Founder of TeleRetail, said: “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.”
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.”
Alton Towers collaborations
Coca-Cola has already partnered with Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments to offer a 50% discount to consumers who recycle an empty plastic bottle at Coca-Cola reverse vending machines.
There are now 23 machines available at Merlin’s UK attractions, including Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort and LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, which will be active until the end of October.