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Automation Shines at NAMA 2023
Wendy's AI, L2F's Dallas pizzeria, Cantaloupe self-checkout kiosks and more
The past week saw some big launches at NAMA, Amazon do a two-step on its grocery market strategy, the shutdown of a molecular beverage printing startup, the launch of a new chatbot for burgers, and more. Let’s dig in!
The Biggest Launches from NAMA 2023
Last week thousands gathered in Atlanta for the 2023 edition of the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) show, and companies large and small dazzled attendees. Cantaloupe Inc. announced a new series of self-checkout kiosks, as well as the “Seed Pick Easy” line of warehouse picking software. Apitech displayed the latest version of its Smart Pizza kiosks. Botast’s “world’s first hamburger vending machine” (debatable) was on display. No category was too humble for reinvention as even water was being rethought, with Borg & Overström showed off a new series of automatic H2O filtration and dispensation systems. Now the only question left is what exciting launches will we see at this weekend’s National Restaurant Association Show?
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Amazon Sending Mixed Signals on Markets
Progressive Grocer took a look at why Amazon Fresh hasn’t taken off with shoppers, as grocery customers continue to find the tech giant’s panopticon stores both eery and poorly stocked. The company seems to have paused its store opening since last September, but it will need to get back to blitzscaling openings if it hopes to hit the scale necessary to take a meaningful bite out of the category: currently Amazon Fresh plus Whole Foods accounts for less than 3% of U.S. grocery market share. Recent developments point in the opposite direction: the company reportedly is subleasing six sites in the Twin Cities that were previously slated to get Fresh markets.
The frosty fundraising market just claimed another victim: Cana. The company had previously raised $30 million to perfect the molecular beverage printer, hoping to be able to craft any beverage at the push of the button. Despite those lofty goals, a product that was supposedly ready to go on sale later this year, and a very Trekkie spokesperson deal with Sir Patrick Stewart, the company has shut down.
Companies left and right are jumping on the LLM and AI hype train, the latest convert being Wendy’s. The fast food giant is teaming up with Google to launch a conversational chat-bot that will power drive-through ordering at company owned locations. First up is training the new AI on some very brand-specific lexicon, such as that “JBC” stands for “junior bacon cheeseburger.” If you roll up and ask the computer for a Big Mac, expect to be in big trouble if RoboDave is ever hooked up to Skynet…
In Case You Missed It…
Watch the video recap of OttOmate’s conversation with industry stalwart Clayton Wood. Drone deliverer Zipline raises a Series F at a lofty $4.2 billion valuation. JPL unveils a snake-like robotic propulsion system. Symbotic’s robotic case-picking system will power Associated Food Stores’ new Utah-based distribution facility. See photos of Sweetgreen’s just-opened robotic restaurant. L2F’s robotic pizza technology will power a new “Pizza Jukebox” store in Dallas. Nuro cuts staff to focus on R&D. Ottonomy’s CEO Ritukar Vijay explains the company’s push into airports.