Meet RoboBurger 🤖🍔, a Vending Machine that Grills Meat
Plus midnight dining, "berserk" salads, the Transformers, TERAKI and hot robo-ramen at Haneda Airport.
RoboBurger is Going to Be Big, Mac
As its name implies, RoboBurger is a vending machine that cooks and serves fresh, hot cheeseburgers on demand.
I want you to think about that sentence for a minute, and what it actually means.
RoboBurger does not re-heat pre-cooked burgers, it has a griddle system to cook patties on the spot. RoboBurger toasts the bun, and can top the burger with ketchup, mustard and melted cheese — all in an NSF Certified box that only takes up 12 sq. ft.
That’s pretty remarkable. But RoboBurger isn’t just remarkable for its innovation — but also for what it represents. It’s something I’ve been harping on for years, but the advances in vending machine technology are revolutionizing how, where and when we get our food.
Listen, I don’t know how good a RoboBurger burger actually tastes. They just launched their next-gen machine last week in New Jersey and I can’t justify flying across the country for a $7.55 robot made burger (or could I…). But what I do know is that if you installed machines from RoboBurger, Piestro, Blendid, RoboChef, Cafe X, Le Bread Express all together — you’d have a mini, automated food court that could fit in an alcove. I mean, you’d need a good sized alcove for sure, but you wouldn’t have to build out (and staff) an entire wing or floor of a building.
Imagine a hotel lobby or airport terminal with such a food robo-court. Fresh, hot meals would be available to people around the clock. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, you subscribed to a food robot newsletter, but RoboBurger — with its publicly available kiosk, has now pushed this discussion forward.
And the technology will only get better. RoboBurgers are pretty bare bones right now, but I’ll bet the company is already hard at work designing the next iteration that will offer more toppings. And somewhere else, I’m sure there’s a team working on a machine that makes fresh burritos, and another working on curries, and another working on chicken sandwiches… you get the point.
So where’s the beef? It’s in the RoboBurger. Now someone just needs to install one of those french fry vending machines next to it.
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“Berserk” Prices, Midnight Dining, and Restaurant Robots
I’ll be honest. I got a little lazy this week and drafted off of The Wall Street Journal’s heavy lifting. I didn’t mean to be slothful, it just so happened that I was inspired by two different Journal pieces in as many days.
First, over the weekend, the WSJ ran a story about how the pandemic has killed off late night dining options. Labor shortages and reduced hours means that fewer college kids are cramming into Denny’s booths as a midnight study break or eating options for other nite owls.
Then a couple days later the paper (I still actually get an actual paper delivered every morning)(it’s rad, highly recommend!) had a story about how office workers are experiencing sticker shock over lunch prices as they return to the office after two years of remote work and grabbing leftovers from their own fridges.
These were both good stories on their own, and they are both cases where robots could help out! Server robots like Bear Robotics’ Servi and Flippy the frying robot can help alleviate overnight labor shortages at restaurants. And things like smart fridges, Restaurants-in-a-box, and yes, advanced vending machines can be installed in offices and subsidized by employers to bring the cost of lunch down.
The pandemic has indelibly altered the way we view dining out and office life. Things will continue to change as we claw our way back to normal. But maybe robots can make those transitions a little bit easier whether you work the late shift or at a cubicle.
Swiss-Mile’s ANYmal: More Than Meets the Eye
Swiss-Mile showed off its four-wheeled robot that can transform from quadruped to biped this week at Nvidia’s GTC2022 conference.
As you can see in the video above, the technology is pretty astounding. The robot zips around on four wheels, and then <makes Transformers noise> the robot can stand upright and move about on two wheels. The robot can even climb and descend stairs — something rovers from the likes of Starship, Kiwibot and Cartken can’t do.
There is a ton of whiz-bang tech in ANYmal to make all that happen. But my take is a little more specific. This robot’s ability to traverse stairs and stand up, could broaden access to delivery to the elderly and people with disabilities.
Though, can you charge energon cubes with a 110 outlet?
With Quantum Computing Roots, TERAKI Leverages Data for Delivery Robots
Though TERAKI made headlines recently when it announced a partnership with Foodor to provide sidewalk robot meal delivery in Stokholm, Sweden (Tjena, robot!). That robot, however was a one-off development. TERAKI is in the autonomy business, looking to leverage data to make other company’s robots more efficient and cheaper.
TERAKI’s roots are in quantum computing and the company is bringing that background to autonomy. TERAKI runs data from cameras and sensor data (not lidar) through its machine learning models that allow the robot to “see” with more human-like precision. This in turn means robots running TERAKI are not reliant on maps to localize and the robots become less expensive.
I’ve got a bunch more details about TERAKI and where its rolling out, back at the site.
Podcast: Intermode's Arnold Kadiu on Innovating Delivery Robot Steering and Suspension
On this week’s OttOmate podcast I talk with Arnold Kadiu, Co-Founder of Intermode.
I’ve been a big fan of Intermode since learning about them last year. In a nutshell, the company build delivery robots that other services can lease for $100/month + .05/mile.
Kadiu and his other co-founders are ex-Ford workers, so they are coming to the delivery market from a transportation perspective rather than a robotics one. As Kadiu explained to me in this podcast, this means Intermode’s robot sports more car-like features such as four-wheel steering and an actual suspension to reduce wear and tear on the robots sensors and other components.
Check out the full interview for a deeper introduction to Intermode and more of Kaiu’s insights into the robot delivery space.
Paid subscribers get to listen to the podcast right now. Free subs can access it next week.
Yo-Kai Express Lands at Haneda Airport in Japan
If you’re flying in to or out of Tokyo’s Haneda airport soon, you can treat yourself to a delicious bowl of hot ramen, courtesy of the newly installed Yo-Kai Express there. Just visit the first floor of Terminal 2. If you do, send us a pic!
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!
Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ‘90 rulez.