Boba Tea: a drink beloved by many, and one of the few treats broke college students regularly splurge on. The drink itself is straightforward: tapioca pearls in flavored tea. The price tag, however, is not.

In Berkeley, a good cup of boba tea can run up to $5 or more. Even at the scale of CalHacks, an event with hundreds of participants, the unit cost per cup for the midnight snack was a hefty $3.25. The cost of the actual ingredients and input materials? < $0.50.

As it turns out, another expensive thing in Berkeley is rent. Boba shops pay top dollar for premier placement near campus in the hopes of attracting astray college students, and for decades, every budding restaurateur knew that location was the most important factor to consider.

But in the 21st century, with services like DoorDash and UberEats, the need for a physical storefront has diminished. Instead, the time has come for something different. BobaFetch heralds the dawn of a new era: direct-to-delivery restaurants that offer great-quality food and drinks at unbeatable cheap prices.

What it does

BobaFetch is an automated boba tea barista system. Leveraging the most advanced tools known to mankind (cardboard, tape, free cups) and some other stuff that's also kinda cool (Azure, CockroachDB,, our team has successfully produced BobaFetch v0.1. This earliest version is a Minimum Viable Product that is capable of dispensing a customer-ready cup of boba tea within 90 seconds.

BobaFetch consists of several components that interact to become the world's first end-to-end boba tea system. First is "ChefBot," a stationary kitchen-in-a-box with all the necessary actuators to properly dispense boba tea. Next is "WaiterBot," ChefBot's mobile companion that collects the prepared cup of tea and can deliver it to the customer. Orders can be made in-person using a tablet interface attached to ChefBot, or using a standalone mobile application, with selections for a choice of tea, sugar level, and ice level. Tied together with helpful cloud services, BobaFetch is the ultimate one-stop-shop for boba tea.

How we built it

  • Cardboard
  • Patience
  • Cardboard
  • Dedication
  • Cardboard
  • jAvAsCrIpT
  • Cardboard
  • Cardboard
  • Cardboard

More seriously:

  • Arduino
  • Raspberry Pi
  • React Native
  • Microsoft Azure
  • CockroachDB
  • Motor Shields
  • BJT Transistors
  • 1:120 Gearmotors
  • RC Servos
  • Cardboard (seriously)
  • Tape
  • Zipties

Challenges we ran into

  • Cardboard 3D printing requires a lot of precision and tape
  • Using deprecated versions of React Native
  • Fitting square pegs into round holes - trying to attach stuff to our motors
  • SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Corrupt node installs are injurious to health
  • 9-volt batteries dying at 1:42 AM (thanks Kai for the save)

Accomplishments that we're proud of

It works!!! We learned SQL over the weekend. Developed sorta-stable FSM and socket implementations based on stuff we learned about in class. Lots of support from the other hackers. Great experience for our teammate and first-time hacker Christy!

What we learned

  • Food hacks are hard - ("We choose to make boba with robots in this weekend and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard")
  • Bring spare batteries!

What's next for BobaFetch

  • Make BobaFetch food safe and ready to server actual Boba
  • Complete payments implementation and round up customers
  • ???
  • Profit

Built With

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