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Walmart Enlists Ottonomy, Dexai Enlists in the Air Force
Plus: Go nuts with our NSF Certification guide, Office Hours and a looming patent dispute.
Why is Walmart hooking up with Ottonomy?
Before we begin, I didn’t write a “2022 Food Robot Predictions” piece to kick off the year. I started one a few different times, but it all boiled down to the same thing: more.
I predict more food robots installed in restaurants, more robo-kiosks at schools and airports, more delivery robots on streets, more drones flying high and more autonomous stores opening up.
2022 won’t be the year food robots go mainstream, but I’m going to be busy writing a bunch of stories about new technologies, new startups, new customers and many new deployments over the coming months, thanks, in no small part, to the ongoing pandemic and labor issues.
We already got a glimpse into the year ahead thanks to CES this week. LG showed off its restaurant server robot and unveiled an indoor/outdoor delivery robot. Pudu Robotics added to its lineup with Kettybot, a server robot sporting a big, mobile display for ads. And delivery robot company Ottonomy announced it is working with Walmart.
Back at the site, I recap and analyze three big trends emerging from all these announcements, but here’s a quick taste about Ottonomy, which was hush-hush about its Walmart announcement, saying only that the two are working together. But as I wrote, because of Ottonomy’s indoor/outdoor capabilities, here’s what I think is happening:
I’m going to guess Walmart won’t really use robots for home delivery. It’s possible, but it seems to make more sense that they would use Ottonomy’s awesomely named Ottobots to automate curbside pickup. Basically carry online orders out to a customer’s car. Ottonomy recently launched a program with Presto to offer this type of curbside pickup service to restaurants. Also, Walmarts aren’t typically located in dense, urban areas. A sidewalk robot is a pretty slow way to make deliveries in the spread out landscape of suburbia. However, a delivery robot could speed up curbside pickup and free up human workers to do other tasks (and, you know, avoid added human-to-human contact during this ongoing pandemic).
Start the year off smarter. Become an OttOmate Subscriber!
Dexai’s food robot flies into Travis Air Force Base
Over the break The Stars & Stripes reported that Dexai Robotics’ Alfred became the first food robot to be installed on a military base.
This news caught my eye both as someone who covers the industry and as someone who grew up a military brat.
I interviewed Dexai CEO David Johnson this week about what makes Alfred different from other food robots. Johnson’s pitch is that because Alfred uses the same utensils a human chef would (instead of an induction mixing bowl), the food created is closer to human made meals. Alfred is also flexible. While it’s making grab-and-go salads for the Air Force, it can also cook steaks (see above video), scoop ice cream, and, well, do just about anything a human cook can do (eventually).
Read the full story to learn more about the versatile Alfred, as well as what the military (which will be a HUUUUUUUGE market opportunity) wants from food robotics companies.
The (literal) nuts and bolts of NSF Certification
It’s 2022 and if you’re a nascent food robot startup, your resolution should be to get NSF Certified!
This week, our ongoing OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification tackles the nuts and bolts of hygienic design. Literally. See the image above? Those are examples of accepted and not accepted types of fasteners.
Here’s more on fasteners direct from Elizabeth Gray, Senior Technical Reviewer - Food Equipment at NSF International:
One major factor when it comes to cleanability is the use of the correct type of fasteners. Generally, no fasteners can be used in the food zone, even if they have an easily cleanable fastener head. In addition, there should be no exposed fastener threads in a food zone.
Fasteners are allowed in a splash and exposed nonfood zone but they must be easily cleanable (e.g. slot heads, Phillips heads and external hex bolts).
Fasteners in these zones also need to be removable with simple tools allowing operators to inspect and clean. Exposed nonfood zones can have 2.5 or ¼" of threads exposed, whichever is less.
And be sure to check OttOmate’s NSF Certification Guide, which collects all the stories in this series.
Introducing: OttOmate Office Hours!
Friday is the best day of the week, but it’s also a pretty slow news day for food robots.
So I says to myself, I says “Hey! Why not turn Friday into a fun day and connect with OttOmate readers?”
Starting tomorrow, Friday, January 7th, I’m going to do OttOmate Office Hours! I’ll be livestreaming to Linkedin from 10 a.m. Pacific until…. who knows? If a lot of people show up, we’ll go for as long as we can.
Got a question about food robots and automation? Hop on over to Linkedin. Anyone can listen in and ask questions. There is no charge for the event, and OttOmate subscribers at any level can participate.
Please Note: Tomorrow will be my first time livestreaming with Streamyard, and my first Linkedin event. Consider it the first pancake, there will be some hiccups, but we’ll get it sorted.
Hope you can stop by and say hi (and ask a question!)
Udelv unveils its Transporter (sans Jason Statham)
Autonomous delivery company Udelv showed off its electric and cab-less Transporter vehicle this week at CES. The Transporter — more than meets the eye — sports a customizable uPod and can carry 2,000 lbs of goods (that goes up to 5,000 without the uPod) and has a range of 160 - 300 miles, depending on the battery pack. It also has a really cool IRIS system of sliding walls that isolate specific orders during pickup.
While it has a lot of use cases, Udelv’s Transporter is perfect for automating the middle mile, and will most likely find its fastest path to market there. As with fellow autonomous delivery vehicle startup, Gatik, Udelv’s Transporter can become a driverless conveyor belt of sorts, shuttling goods between distribution centers and store outlets all day long.
Lord knows our supply chain could use a little (automated) help right now.
How will patents play out between DroneDek and Valqari?
DroneDek is a startup making autonomous boxes for drone deliveries and it has filed a number of patents around its technology.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Valqari is a startup making autonomous boxes for drone deliveries and it too has filed a number of patents around its technology.
I spoke to both parties and did my non-patent lawyer best to parse through the facts. DroneDek’s CEO told me last week that there is “Probably some litigation off in the future” over the issue.
With drone deliveries on the rise around the world, the question of which technology becomes the go-to solution to receive all those airborne meals, packages and medicines is not a small one.
Mukunda Foods is Hiring in the UK!
Mukunda Foods is one of a kind F&B Automation and Robotics company. We make machines that cook food automatically. We have helped 3000+kitchens across 27 countries to address the challenge of trained labour shortage. At the same time our machines are capex lite and provide brands an ROI within 6-9 months.
Mukunda is looking to fill the following positions in its London, UK office.
Customer Service Technician
Mukunda Foods (MFPL) UK London division is looking for a Customer Service Technician to carry out Demos/Trials of Kitchen bots for F&B business, installation, preventive maintenance, providing all types after sales service with minimal inconvenience to the customer. This is a site based role where you will be travelling from your home address to various customer locations.
This is a customer facing role where a Customer will raise requests of works for completion, and where you will be in charge of communicating directly with Mukunda Foods UK division clients and managing the appointment process, agreeing when works will commence and be completed within set timescales.
It is the responsibility of the Customer Service Technician to ensure materials are available and to hand when completing the works, and that the remedial work is completed in accordance to our quality standards.
We are looking for an ambitious individual with at least a diploma or engineering in mechanical field, a keen eye for detail. Skilled with experience in a similar role is a plus but not mandatory. You will be open and friendly with customer service and quality at the centre of your work, as well as demonstrating excellent organisational skills and time management.
Business Development Executive
Mukunda Foods (MFPL) UK, London division is looking for a Business Development Executive with experience in the UK F&B Industry relating specifically to Sales engagement for restaurant, QSR, Cloud Kitchen and Fine dine.
The Business Development Executive will be responsible for reaching out to decision makers within the restaurant, QSR, Cloud Kitchen and Fine dine industries. Covering the UK and Europe Market, the Business Development Executive will be responsible with selling MFPL cooking bots. Your role will involve showing successful demos, conducting trials to various stakeholders in the F&B Industry.
The Business Development Executive will be responsible for managing the full 360 sales cycle from creating new business leads to closing deals.
- Working towards a degree in marketing or related area
- Highly motivated, autonomous and Comfortable working under pressure
- Excellent CRM processes
If you’re interested in either of these positions, contact Dibyananda Brahma, VP of Growth at Mukunda.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading.
Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ‘90 rulez.