EXCLUSIVE: RoboChef Comes Out of Stealth with Smart Cookie Automated Kiosk
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I hate to say it, but all the other food robot companies I’ve covered on OttOmate may need to pack it in. Everyone go home because RoboChef came out of stealth mode today, and they brought fresh, warm, gooey chocolatey cookies.
The Chicago-based RoboChef’s Smart Cookie automated kiosk prepares and customizes a variety of cookies on-demand. The first kiosk has been up and running since September in a pilot serving real customers (for real money) at a Dipwich sandwich shop in Huntsville, Alabama. And while RoboChef is starting with cookies, its deep robotics expertise has positioned its platform to expand beyond pastries into other types of food.
RoboChef is the brainchild of Aravind Durai, who is one smart cookie himself with an extensive work history at robotics giants like ABB, Kuka, FANUC and Mitsubishi. Two years ago, Durai set his sights on food. “The entire foodservice industry was built around the one resource of human labor,” Durai told me during an interview. “The industry got used to unlimited supply, indefinitely.” Those conditions have obviously changed this past year, with labor shortages crushing just about every link in the foodservice chain.
As Durai explained it, the Smart Cookie, like so many other food robots, isn’t just meant to alleviate labor issues — but to also create a consistent product, with less waste in a more hygienic way.
The Smart Cookie is a standalone automated kiosk that uses an articulating arm to create 160 different variations of cookies. The machine stores 60 par-baked discs of cookie dough that are “re-thermalized” in two minutes (Durai said baking cookies from raw dough would take too long).
Consumers can order via mobile app or the on-board tablet, choosing from three types of cookies: chocolate, sugar and lemon. These cookies can be drizzled with five different types of sauce (caramel, chocolate, etc.), and topped with a number of different toppings including chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, slivered almonds, Reese’s Pieces, or toasted coconut. Each cookie costs $2.25 and Smart Cookie makes 60 cookies per hour.
While I haven’t tried these cookies yet, whether or not they are delicious is almost besides the point. “We are not in business to sell cookies,” Durai said. “We allow existing food retail brands to be able to deliver to their customers their own recipes, ingredients and value, but powered by the RoboChef platform.”
Here’s why Smart Cookie is one smart idea.