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NSF Q&A FTW! Everything You Need to Know About Food Safety Certification
Plus Dexai's Alfred, THEO's baumkuchen, Aldi's Pizzabot, and Pizzabot's crypto ambitions.
Quick note: I’ve been traveling this week (some long-awaited, mouthwatering news on the way!), so I was a bit light on stories. Full publishing schedule will resume next week!
Missed Our NSF Q&A? No Worries! Watch it On Demand!
Y’all! At the risk of sounding immodest, the Q&A I hosted with NSF’s Orsi Dézsi this morning was fantastic (despite a few technical hiccups). Dézsi and I spent an hour talking about what the NSF does (food safety certification for your robot/appliance/machine), why NSF certification is important, and fielded a bunch of questions on topics ranging from sourcing approved parts to global certifications to impacts of the supply chain crunch.
If you missed it — you missed out, but don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. The entire event was recorded and is available right now on Linkedin. Go check it out! (I’ll also be making the audio available as a podcast next week.)
OttOmate is a reader-supported publication. Becoming a paid subscriber not only keeps OttOmate going, but also lets us do free events like our NSF Q&A. Please sign up for a paid subscription today!
U.S. Military to Put Ten of Dexai’s Alfreds on Duty
Listen, it’s a little fraught to be writing about military decisions right now, given the state of global affairs. But, I write about food robots and this week we learned that the U.S. Military ordered ten of Dexai Robotics’ Alfred cooking robots in a contract worth $1.6 million.
Alfred’s hook is that it can, well, use a hook if need be. Dexai built the robot to use the same tools and utensils as human chefs, so the resulting robo-food should have more of a handmade fee.
Handmade, as I point out back at the site, but with added benefits like cost containment. Read on to see why food robots are a good match for the military.
Meet THEO, the Baumkuchen Robot
One of the pitches the aforementioned Dexai makes to potential buyers is the versatility of its robot. Alfred can be taught to sear a steak or scoop ice cream. The Japanese company Foodtech Meister is going in the opposite direction with its THEO robot.
THEO does one thing. And for many here in the U.S., that one thing is pretty obscure. THEO makes baumkuchen. Don’t know what a baumkuchen is? Neither did I! Baumkuchen is a spit cake made by dipping a roller in batter that then spins in front of a heat source. The result is a cake made up of 15 - 21 thin layers. It’s a German cake, and it’s evidently popular in Japan.
For a human to cook a baumkuchen, they must stand at the oven moving the roller back and forth for an hour or so. This is the definition of manual, repetitive work — something robots do very well.
Spin yourself over to OttOmate where I talk about THEO’s AI, any why this uni-tasking robot doesn’t need to diversify its talents.
Aldi’s New Pizzabot in Australia Will Soon Take Pizzabot Crypto
Do you “launch” or “open” a vending machine? I’m not sure, but whatever your verb of choice, the Aldi’s in North Sydney Australia started serving hot pizza from its new Pizzabot vending machine this week.
Made by fellow Aussie, Placer Robotics, Pizzabot stores two kinds of par-baked pizzas (pepperoni and Italian) that are heated, boxed and served on demand. Pizzabot accepts digital payments from Google and Apple Pay, and oh yeah, Placer is launching its own “Pizzabot” cryptocurrency as well, because why not. If you didn’t get in on the ground floor of Bitcoin or Bored Ape — here’s your big crypto break!
But I’m not kidding about the big business pizza vending machines will be. Back at OttOmate.news, I explain how vending machines like Pizzabot will continue to blur the lines between food retail and restaurant.
What’s Up With Amazon’s Cashierless Checkout?
Amazon opened its first cashierless Whole Foods this week. The first Whole Foods to get the Just Walk Out tech is located in Washington D.C. and it’s a significant milestone for Amazon, which has encountered a few hiccups as it scales up its cahierless checkout tech.
Last week Business Insider posted a story about how the company was struggling to get shoppers at its supermarkets to use Amazon smart Dash Carts, which provide a cashierless checkout experience.
Fun Fact: Did you know you can’t take Dash Carts outside? But don’t worry about carrying all those groceries out to your car, because Dash Carts are small and only hold about two bags’ worth of goods.
Anyhoo. This sluggish Dash Cart usage followed news last year that cashierless shoppers at the Amazon Fresh Grocery store, which uses in-store cameras instead of Dash Carts, had to wait hours after leaving the store to get their receipts.
These certainly aren’t fatal mistakes, but as I argued last week, there is a cavalcade of startups itching to ensure Amazon doesn’t dominate cashierless checkout, and just waiting to pounce on any unforced errors.
A Q&A with Chas Studor, Briggo Founder, New CTO of Now Cuisine
Normally, I don’t cover personnel announcements (PR people, please take note). Unless they are super influential or well-known, no one cares who your new VP of marketing is. But when I learned that Chas Studor is Now Cuisine’s new CTO, I though it merited a post.
Studor’s been in the role for a while, but they’ve kept it quiet. I first met Studor years ago at, appropriately enough a coffee shop. At the time, he was Co-Founder and CTO of Briggo, which made a robotic coffee kiosk. Costa Coffee bought Briggo last year for an undisclosed sum. Studor has moved on from coffee to food and is now helping build Now Cuisine, which is basically a robot-restaurant in a box.
Studor was kind enough to sit down with me (virtually) this week for a quick Q&A about his new role, some technical challenges of building an all-in-one food kiosk, and the lessons he he learned from Briggo.
🎧 Podcast: Expedite's Kristen Hawley on Restaurant Robots 🎧
This (awesome) podcast interview with (the awesome) Kristen Hawley of the (awesome) Expedite newsletter is now available to everyone. Just a reminder that paid OttOmate subscribers get podcasts a week before everyone else.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading.