Robotic Candy-Dispensing Door Delivers the Halloween Goods

The Hershey Company has taken robotics and IoT out of the factory floor and onto the street. Coming this Halloween, keep an eye out for Reese’s Trick-or-Treat robotic device, a 9 ft. tall autonomous roving door. It can light up, open up, emit scary smoke, and provide a hands-free handoff of a king-sized Reese’s peanut butter cup when someone knocks.

 

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Image credit: The Hershey Company

Halloween is a time for tricks and treats. And despite the social distancing rules still in place in most cities, 63 percent of adults believe that people will find creative, fun, and safe ways to celebrate this Halloween season.

In an effort to keep candy-gathering traditions alive in the neighborhood, the Hershey Company has pulled a treat out of its IoT automation bag. Its engineers have built a robotic transport “door” that can provide a contactless way for children to get its jumbo Reese’s peanut butter cups.

According to Hershey, its Reese’s Trick-or-Treat Door provides a smart, safer, social-distancing option to bring candy to the doorstep. "This Halloween is unlike any other, so we've upped the ante on creativity as a result," said Allen Dark, Reese’s senior brand manager. "A robotic Reese’s dispensing door is just what the world needs right now.”

 

Here's how the Reese’s Trick-or-Treat Door works:

  • Three motors power the door, directed by a remote control that works from up to 5,000 feet away.
  • The 9 ft. door features a built-in Bluetooth-enabled speaker. Once someone near the door says, "trick or treat," the intelligent system activates and directs the automated shelf to go to work.
  • The robot then automatically dispenses a king-size Reese’s candy bar through the mail slot from a retractable shelf.
  • The robotic door is also tricked out to make its arrival known, as it can deliver smoke, lights, and what the company dubs as an “epic Halloween soundtrack.” 

The Hershey Company is holding a contest on social media to see where its Reese’s Trick-or-Treat Door will travel to on the big night. The company also plans for its door to make stops in a few runner-up cities before October 31st. 

Trick or treaters receive candy from robotic Reese's door

Image credit: PRNewsfoto/The Hershey Company

A Sweet IoT Solution in Candyland

Robotics and IoT are nothing new to the Hershey Corporation. In fact, the company has deployed a fleet of sensors that—combined with business intelligence and data mining—can create the ideally sized and shaped Twizzler from each 900-lb. batch of ingredients that moves through the factory.

It perfected its processes by setting up a machine learning-based solution in its factory that can transmit data back-and-forth from machinery sensors to a Microsoft Azure cloud. Built with the help of solution integrator New Signature (Cognizant’s Microsoft Business Group), the industrial Twizzler-making system collected more than 60 million data points from 23 IoT sensors over two months to create the algorithm.

The solution tracks pressure, temperature, rotations per minute (used to create the twizzle shape), and other factors across Hershey’s complex licorice making, baking, and stretching processes. The company reports that the smart Twizzler machine learned to adjust itself about 240 times per day, reducing weight variability by 50 percent.

  • See how solution integrator New Signature applies IoT technologies to The Hershey Company candy-making operations.
  • Watch the Reese’s Trick-or-Treat Door in action in this video