Smile! Robojo's Barista Prints a Selfie on Your Latte
Plus a real Zing-er of a drone delivery idea, we squeeze more details out of ROBOjuice, and SNL's bartender bot.
Since it’s a slow time of year for news (well, food robot news), OttOmate is taking Christmas Eve and the rest of the weekend off, and will resume with a lightened publication schedule next week. Happy Holidays!
Robojo’s selfie prints are suitable for drinking
As the wave of fully automated coffee robots hit the market next year, they will face a double whammy to getting their initial customers.
First, these robo-baristas will need to convince people to break their existing habits (e.g. grabbing their morning latte at the local Starbucks) and try something new. Unless the robot barista is co-branded with a well known coffee name, this could prove difficult for potential customers who don’t like change.
The other hurdle for robot baristas is that people aren’t used to robots serving them drinks — let alone the most important, caffeinated drink of their morning. Robots are still a novelty and there will be a learning curve for new customers as they figure out what the robot is, what it does, what it offers, etc. — all without a human worker around to answer those questions.
So how will robot baristas get people to break an ingrained habit and take the time to figure out the new automation?
Well, the very theatrical nature of a robotic arm swinging around might be enough to attract interest. “Look! That robot is making a latte, and it just waved at me!” But getting eyeballs won’t necessarily translate to purchases.
Robojo might have just the ticket. The company is bringing a new robot barista to the U.S. next month that could entice the robo-curious and get them to try something new with a special hook: printing a selfie on a latte.
Robojo is the distributor of Germany’s MyAppCafe barista bot, and its first installation will happen on January 16th. Sure the machine offers a variety of coffee drinks — but when you order you can also upload a picture of yourself to be printed on your drink on-demand.
As I wrote in our exclusive coverage of Robojojo, this appeal to modern day vanity could be enough to reel people into the robot barista experience. Get all the details about Robojojo and how it fits into the overall automated coffee market.
Zing drones using water to make delivery flights
As any drone delivery startup will tell you, getting approvals from the FAA is a strict, lengthy process. Florida drone delivery startup Zing, for example, does not yet have approval to fly over people or moving vehicles — but that isn’t stopping the company from getting to market.
Zing’s plan is to make deliveries by water. Well, over water. It’s setting up an initial delivery service in St. Petersburg, Florida where it will fly food orders from waterfront restaurants across a waterway to a waterfront residential area. Flying from bank to bank will avoid moving vehicles and people.
Get more details on this clever workaround after the jump.
Fresh details on ROBOjuice
In last week’s newsletter I promised you more details about ROBOjuice. Not wanting to let you down, I spoke with the company’s co-founder and CEO Yevgeny Senkevich, who filled me in on some more details about his company’s smoothie-making robot.
ROBOjuice plans to install its first robot “early next year” somewhere in the Bay Area. The robot featured in the promotional video last week (and in the image above) is old. The latest version features the ability to hold five liquid ingredients, two dry ingredients as well as additional fruit and veggie dispensers.
ROBOjuice also sports a patented in-cup blending technology that allows for greater control of the smoothie’s thickness as well as easier cleaning.
We’ve got more details as well as how it compares with existing smoothie robots from Alberts and Blendid already at market, back on the site.
Looking for a last minute gift? Give someone an OttOmate subscription and you give them a glimpse into the future. Plus, it’s not that expensive and there is nothing to ship.
Bonus: Expense it! It is a business publication after all.
Hex key fasteners need not apply
Did you see the movie Steve Jobs? In it, there’s a scene right before the Macintosh’s debut where the crew can’t get into the computer to fix something on a demo because it requires a special screwdriver.
While making its computer hard to get into is a very Apple thing to do, that type of locked out design is a definite no-no when designing your food robot.
In this week’s installment of the OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification, Kaylyn Brunskole, Strategic Account Manager for Global Food Safety - Equipment & Chemical Evaluation at NSF talks all about cleanliness and accessibility when designing food robots and equipment. From that post:
In general, the food zones must be readily accessible and easily cleanable. This means that you must be able to access and clean every part by hand: you should not need tools such as screwdrivers to remove a part for cleaning, and you should be able to remove food or other soiling material with a cloth, sponge or brush. Equipment that has these hygienic requirements makes it easier for operators to remove soil that attracts unwanted pests and to maintain a high level of food safety to reduce chances of foodborne illness.
Easily cleanable: Manufactured so that food and other soiling material may be removed by manual cleaning methods.
Readily accessible: Manufactured to be exposed for cleaning and inspection without the use of tools.
Read Kaylyn’s full article to make sure your food robot/machine/appliance passes the cleanliness test!
And check out the full guide to see all the NSF articles posted so far in our series.
Podcast: If you’re serious about creating new tech jobs for displaced food workers, check out Per Scholas
When you bring up the subject of job losses, food robot and automation startups are always quick to point out that while some existing jobs will be lost, different and better jobs fueled by technology will be created.
If this is true, then food robotics startups will need to make sure that these new tech-centered jobs are available to everyone — not just the same people occupying tech jobs today.
That’s why I’m working with Per Scholas, a non-profit out of Chicago (I have no financial relationship with the company). Per Scholas trains underrepresented groups (for free!) in technology including AWS, JAVA and IT certifications. Not only that, Per Scholas works with employers to help find jobs for its alumns.
In this week’s podcast, I sat down with Kelsey Briggs-Dineen, Senior Manager, Business Solutions at Per Scholas to talk about how Per Scholas operates with both trainees and employers.
Fraîche gets a fresh $2M for office smart fridges
This probably isn’t the best time to ask (for a lot of reasons), but would a fridge full of subsidized healthy meals be enough to entice you back into the office?
We are still asking what the future of work will look like 20 months into this pandemic, but smart fridges like those from Fraîche might be a small piece of a bigger puzzle to attract reluctant workers back to HQ.
Fraiche’s fridge allows companies to offer fresh meals to employees without incurring the cost of building a full-on cafeteria, or the complexity and once-a-day rigidity of a corporate lunch delivery service. The fridge is stocked with a variety of meals and treats, and the company can pay for as much of the meals as they like (or not at all if they want to be jerks about it).
Fraîche just raised $2 million this week. Back on the site, I break down the fundraise and get into its place in the future of work.
Watch All the OttOmate Airport Event Sessions
Perhaps you are spending a lot of time in airports right now (godspeed if you are). It just so happens that OttOmate launched its Airport Event last week!
It’s a series of fireside chats that help teach you how to get your food automation startup into an airport, what to expect during that process, how to pick a location and what customers are like once you’re set up. If you work at an airport, these talks will introduce you to the latest, cutting-edge automation startups that can help feed hungry travelers passing through your terminals.
Sessions include talks with a Commissioner at the Seattle Airport, as well as C-Suite execs from Yo-Kai Express, Ottonomy, Crave, Zippin, Cafe X and Basil Street Pizza.
The event is on-demand and free for paid OttOmate subscribers! So you can watch it while you’re waiting for your next flight. :)
Now Cuisine - Senior Mechanical Engineer (Full-time, Texas)
Become a key contributor to the core team bringing out Now Cuisine’s first commercial robotic meal machine.
Conceptual and detail design, analysis, specification, interaction with vendors
Industry experience in mechanical engineering, preferably designing and developing sophisticated automated equipment involving motion control, actuators, sensors, and clever mechanisms
Background in concept and detail design of electromechanical systems and mechanisms
Fluency with SOLIDWORKS
Working familiarity with electrical systems and electronics
Bachelor of Science or graduate degree in mechanical engineering
3+ years of industrial experience developing automated machinery
Hands-on experience with prototyping techniques (3D printing, CNC machining, laser cutting, etc.) and machine shop practice
Passion for great food, robotics, and/or automation
For more information, including how to apply, please see https://www.nowcuisine.com/careers.
Have a food robot or automation job opening? Post it on OttOmate! Paid subscribers can list jobs for free! Just email me to set it up.
Saturday Night Live’s robot bartender is a joke
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading.
Happy robo-lidays from OttOmate!
Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ‘90 rulez.