A Handy Guide to Get You Started With Food Robots
Plus: A Tortoise fit for the Kings, drone week!, Chili's and Digital Twins.
Where to Start When You’re Starting with Food Robots
Listen. I know, dear OttOmate subscriber, that you know all about the emerging world of food robotics and automation. You’re cool like that.
But there are undoubtedly a lot of people managing operations as restaurant chains, hotels, military bases, college campuses, airports, etc. who are brand new to the robot game and but don’t know where to begin.
That is why I published the “Where Do I Start with Food Robots?” guide this week — to help the food robo noob get their grounding in the space. This quick guide points people in the right direction whether they:
Operate a restaurant/restaurant chain
Are building their own food robot
Run a hotel or resort
Manage innovation at an airport or other transit hub
And so on…
It’s meant to be a very introductory way for people to quickly find the news and resources they should know about food robots.
If you’re new to the space — welcome! If you know of someone who could use this guide — forward it to them.
Tortoise Scores with Sacramento Kings Deal
Barely one month into its pivot away from last mile delivery and into mobile commerce, Tortoise has scored a pretty high-profile gig with an NBA team. Company CEO Dmitry Shevelenko posted to Linkedin this week that the Tortoise ‘bot is now selling water and popcorn at Sacramento Kings games.
As I explain in detail back at the site, I think this is just the tip of the stadium/arena iceberg for Tortoise. Not only does its robot move commerce closer to customers, it’s fast tap to pay system means eventgoers spend less time standing in line and more time watching the game/concert/monster truck rally/whatever.
With a business plan that requires no up-front cost (just a cut of revenues), expect to see more Tortoises at more stadiums selling more types of goods throughout this year.
It’s been a big couple of weeks for drone food delivery!
Manna officially launched drone delivery in Balbriggan, Ireland this week (after running a pilot there since November of last year). This is the second market for Manna, which has been operating in Galway, Ireland for a couple of years now. Manna is already prepared to hit the
ground air running in Balbriggan, with plans to conduct 200 deliveries per day there.
Not for nothin’, Balbriggan is 15 minutes away from the Dublin Airport. Regulatory issues are the biggest hurdle to mainstream adoption of drone delivery, so Manna’s ability to operate so close to major airport hopefully bodes well for its ability to expand even further in Ireland.
One place that has greatly expanded its drone delivery options in just the past week is the Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) area of Texas. DFW is now home to not just one but two different major drone delivery operations. Google Wing officially launched its drone delivery in the DFW are towns of Frisco and Little Elm this week. Wing’s launch comes directly on the heels of Flytrex starting operations in the DFW suburb of Grandbury.
I’m just sayin’, if you want to see the future of food robotics and automation — boot scoot n’ boogie to Dallas.
Chili’s is Checkin’ Out Serve’s Delivery Robot
Your baby back (baby back, baby back, baby back) ribs could soon be delivered by a robot. Word surfaced last week that Chili’s is testing out sidewalk robot delivery via Serve Robotics (hat tips to Dallas Innovates and The Spoon).
Serve was tight-lipped about the deal, confirming only that it was working with Brinker International to “roll out robotic delivery for Chili’s customers.” So we don’t know where, when or how many restaurants/robots are involved.
My bigger questions though is how will these robots be used? Will they be for last mile delivery, or will they be used to shuttle food out for curbside pickup, similar to the deal Ottonomy has with Presto. For Chili’s that are in more suburban areas where their customers live farther away, it might make more sense to have a slow moving sidewalk robot just shuttling orders out to customers in cars.
We’ll just have to wait until Serve provides an official announcement on the deal. But as I explain back at OttOmate, this isn’t the only robot Chili’s is currently experimenting with. Brinkers is placing good bets on robots.
“Digital Twins” Could Help Cities Prepare for Robots and Drones
I started this newsletter looking out for the newcomers, and I’m going to end it with something for the food robot experts.
Synthetic data already helps train artificial intelligence systems powering food-related applications like cashierless checkout and robotics. But what if synthetic data could help in a more macro way — like helping an entire city plan for autonomous robots and drones?
Bloomberg has a story up this week about “Digital Twin” cities. These are exact digital replicas of existing cities that can be used to run simulations for local planners about things like new construction or sustainability.
As I read Bloomberg’s article, it seemed like these Digital Twins could also be used to run simulations around possible robot and drone deployments. Without needing to actually put 100 sidewalk robots on the streets, you could deploy them digitally, and then see the impact that would have on road traffic (fewer delivery drivers) and pedestrians.
What do you think? Leave a comment back at the site.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!
Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ‘90 rulez.