Ocado to Feed its Workforce with Karakuri's Autonomous Robot Canteen

Karakuri's Semblr bot to make meals for 4,000 Ocado staff.

Employees returning to Ocado’s UK offices will find a shiny new automated addition in the cafeteria. Karakuri announced today that it’s Semblr robotic canteen will be serving meals to Ocado’s 4,000 workers.

Semblr (formerly called the DK-One) is an all-in-one robotic kiosk that holds 17 hot and cold ingredients and can serve 110 meals per hour. Ocado employees will order meals ahead of time via mobile app with the ability to customize ingredients such as proteins, sauces, topping and more down to the gram. This level of customization means that there are 2,700 different meal combinations that Semblr can make.

OttOmate is powered by paid subscribers! Not one yet? Become a full subscriber today to get access to exclusive news, interviews and early access to our forthcoming events!

This is Karakuri’s first public installation of its robot, and it’s not suprising the debut is at Ocado, given that Ocado invested in Karakuri’s Seed round of funding in 2019. At the time of that funding, Ocado said that it could use Karakuri’s technology for something like assembling boxed meals in dark kitchens for delivery or even serving meals in stores.

There are actually quite a few reasons a dark kitchen or other grocery retailer would want a Semblr. During these pandemic times, contained robotic system like Karakuri’s create a more hygeinic and contactless food experience. There are no human hands assembling meals and ordering can be done through a mobile app. As a bonus, because ingredients are kept in separate compartments, there isn’t allergen cross-contamination either.

Equally as important, the precise dispensing of the Semblr means there aren’t overages. Exact amounts of ingredients are used when making a meal so there is less food waste.

And, of course, human labor is an issue in the UK as well as here in the US. Semblr can basically operate a tiny, unattended restaurant inside a retail space with minimal human involvement. Plus, Semblr can operate around the clock to feed people pretty much any time of day or night.

Karakuri is one of a few companies making self-contained robot canteens right now. RoboEatz, Kitchen Robotics’ Beastro, Gastronomous, YPC Technologies and SJW Robotics all have their own takes on the standalone food assembly machines and are at various levels of coming to market.

Karakuri’s instllation at Ocado, however, is the first publicly announced installation that we know of.