Snackbot is a mobile autonomous robot, intended for both fully autonomous and semi-autonomous operation, built by an interdisciplinary team at Carnegie Mellon University. Snackbot has two jobs. One job is to serve as a research platform for projects in robotics, design, and behavioral science. We welcome new partners or sponsors for this work. Snackbot’s other job is to serve snacks.

What is Snackbot

Snackbot is a mobile robot, about the size of a very small human, that rolls around on wheels, and will be delivering snacks to students, faculty, and office workers at Carnegie Mellon University. A Snackbot research team of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from more than three departments at Carnegie Mellon created Snackbot as a platform for studying human-robot interaction in the real world.

Snackbot is meant as an ongoing platform for research. The Snackbot will support research into robust autonomous operation in office environments. Our efforts range from multi-sensor fusion algorithms for perception, reasoning about dynamic spaces,communicating with people through verbal and non-verbal mechanisms, and planning with incomplete information. 

The research will allow the robot to navigate through congested areas in a socially acceptable fashion, detect individual people moving near the robot, recognize when someone that the robot knows approaches it, and autonomously learn to recognize new objects. Snackbot will support research in the fields of design and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) on using sound, motion, and form for human-robot interaction. Snackbot will support behavioral science research on such topics as personalization and people’s relationships with interactive objects, and research on snack services drawn from behavioral economics.


Lee, M.K., Forlizzi J., Kiesler S., Rybski, P., Antanitis, J., Savetsila, S. (2012) Personalization in HRI: A longitudinal field experiment, In Proceedings of HRI 2012. [pdf]

Lee, M.K., Kiesler S., Forlizzi J., Rybski, P. E. (2012) Ripple Effects of an Embedded Social Agent: A Field Study of a Social Robot in the Workplace, In Proceedings of CHI 2012. [pdf]

Zwinderman, M., Rybski, P.E., Kootstra, G. (2010) A Human-Assisted Approach for a Mobile Robot to Learn 3D Object Models using Active Vision, In Proceedings of RO-MAN 2010. [pdf]

Lee, M.K.,Kiesler S.,Forlizzi J.,Srinivasa S., and Rybski P. E. (2010) Gracefully Mitigating Breakdowns in Robotic Services, In Proceedings of HRI 2010. Best paper award. [pdf]

Lee, M.K., Forlizzi, J., Rybski, P.E., Crabbe, F., Chung, W., Finkle, J., Glaser, E., and Kiesler, S. (2009) The Snackbot: Documenting the design of a robot for long-term human-robot interaction. In
Proceedings of HRI 2009, 7-14. [pdf]


Article : "Just Like Mombot Used to Make", NY Times (February 23, 2010). New York Times

External video link (September 23rd, 2009) : The Snackbot was one of the robots from Carnegie Mellon featured on the CBS evening news. The New Pittsburgh

Gigapan image (September 21nd, 2009) : The Snackbot was part of the robotics demonstrations held the week of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. Here's a panoramic view of the Planetary Robotics Highbay in the new Gates Center for Computer Science at CMU. Panoramic image.

Video (September 2009) : Demonstration of LED mouth and speech. Monolog: "About the Snackbot"

Video (September 2009) : Demonstration of LED mouth and speech. Example autonomous dialog

Video (August 2009) : Demonstration of Snackbot autonomous navigation and autonomous spoken language dialog processing

Video (April 2009) : Demonstration of Snackbot mobility and head actuation