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Robomart Raises $2M, Ziki Acquires Bowlton
Amazon drone execs out, Midwest leads in bot usage
Fundraises, acquisitions, expansions - oh my! Seems like the restaurant automation space is heating back up; read on for more industry updates…
Robomart Raises $2M for Store-Hailing
Robomart, a Los Angeles-based startup known for its "store-hailing" concept, has secured a $2 million seed round, bringing its total funding to $3.4 million. This self-driving vehicle service delivers a mini-store experience to customers' doorsteps, eliminating the need to visit physical stores or navigate online shopping sites. The funding announcement coincides with the introduction of the company's new product, The Haven. This model complements the existing Oasis vehicle, targeting supermarkets and convenience stores with a capacity for approximately 300 SKUs. CEO Ali Ahmed emphasizes that Robomart Haven allows supermarkets to broaden their retail presence at reduced costs while offering customers a genuine in-person shopping experience at home.
The company, which previously toyed with rebranding as “Conjure” for its partnership with Mars on ice cream vans, has signed seven retail customers who have contracted over 100 robomarts between them, including Ben & Jerry's (Unilever), and Fatty Mart. Investors include W Ventures, Wasabi Ventures, SOSV, HAX, Hustle Fund, Automation Fund, Soma Ventures, and Archetype.
Amazon Loses Two Key Drone Delivery Execs
Amazon's drone delivery ambitions have encountered another hurdle with the departure of two pivotal executives, Jim Mullin and Robert Dreer, who played crucial roles in Amazon Prime Air's drone testing operations. Their exits come amidst mounting challenges for the Prime Air service, which, despite significant investments, hasn't scaled beyond pilot testing in limited U.S. locations. Since its inception, Prime Air has faced regulatory challenges, missed delivery targets, and technical setbacks, including a recent drone crash in June. Currently the company is working on durability and reliability testing for its MK27-2 model, which requires hundreds of hours of incident-free flytime. A newer model, the MK30, is in the works as well.
The Midwest Leads in Robot Usage
The National Bureau of Economic Research reveals that Iowa, Michigan, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota lead in the use of robots for manufacturing. The distribution of robots across the U.S. is highly uneven, with 75% of robots concentrated in 10% of U.S. regions. The data suggests that robots tend to complement rather than replace production workers. Interestingly, companies with robots generally tend to have more employees, but pay each worker less on average. There is also a "robot cluster effect", with businesses in manufacturing hubs more likely to adopt robots, especially if they have access to robot integrators. While robots are beneficial for the GDP, they haven't addressed the issue of stagnant productivity growth. Their uneven distribution could also exacerbate political polarization. Erik Brynjolfsson, the lead author of the report, emphasizes the need to understand the development of robot hubs and to promote equal robot adoption across regions.
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Ziki Acquires Bowlton
Austin-based ZIKI is a greek-mexican fusion concept that’s quickly expanding across Austin, now with 10 locations across the Texas capital region. The restaurant’s parent organization, The Food Company, recently raised $5 million in seed funding from Gigafund, and is putting that capital to work by branching into restaurant automation. The startup recently acquired Bowlton Kitchens, a salad, soup grain and pasta bowl automation company that promises equipment that can handle up to 300 dishes per hour.
In Other News
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