You Are the Center of the New Food Universe
⭐️🍕 & 🤖🛒 & 🚀🤖 & 🤖🍜 & 🤖🍕& 🎧
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The Future of Food is All About You
The most important person in the whole wide world is you. You are the center of the coming food universe with a massive gravitational pull, attracting restaurants and food retail into your orbit, no matter where you are.
Sure, delivery is commonplace right now. You can get just about any meal you like delivered to your front door. But soon, the entire restaurant will come to your neighborhood.
That’s the idea behind Stellar Pizza, which is aiming to, well launch later this year in L.A.. Other news pubs will focus on the gee-whizness of the robot, but OttOmate readers know that there are a lot of pizza robots. What’s more interesting about Stellar is how it moves the restaurant to wherever customers are and uses the robot to create custom, on-demand food.
Stellar’s robot is crammed into the back of a box truck that will park in mall parking lots, outside stadiums or in neighborhoods like yours on a given evening. Place your order on your phone and the robot presses the fresh (not frozen!) dough, and then tops and cooks the pizza on demand. Delivery drivers (or robots someday!) come and pick up your order, but because Stellar’s truck is already close to your home, the pizza doesn’t have to travel as far and will arrive piping hot.
Since the restaurant is on wheels, once the evening is done, Stellar’s truck drives off to another location to sell more pies, or heads back to HQ to get ready for the next day.
The combination of robot + mobile restaurant may sound familiar if you remember Zume Pizza. But as I write back on the site, Stellar is no Zume-point-oh. The combination of better automation technology and an audience more accustomed to delivery (thank you, pandemic), have primed Stellar to take off.
But it’s not just restaurants on the move. Stores don’t need to be stuck inside buildings any longer. Down in L.A. (note to self: move to Los Angeles, they get all the cool stuff), Robotmart is a convenience store you can hail.
Robomart is actually van filled with drinks, snacks and other sundries that just drives around. If you need something, you open the Robomart app and request the van to come to your location. Once it arrives, the van opens up, you grab what you want and get charged automatically.
Any parent out there that’s ever run out of milk/formula/juice/sanity can immediately seen the immense benefit of this.
Technically, Robomart isn’t very “robo” right now as regulations have the company using human drivers and not AI on public streets. But the company’s bigger vision is to have smaller, autonomous pod-like vehicles stocked with goods, driving around all day, just waiting for your call. It’s like Uber for stores, but the Uber is the store.
But maybe the idea of an entire restaurant or store uprooting and traveling to your neighborhood is too much for you.
Never fear! Your food is also on the move on a much smaller scale. This week sidewalk delivery robot startup, Starship, announced it raised a $42 million Series B round. This haul was less than a month after it has raised €50 million, which, considering the exchange rate at that time, means that Starship has raised more than $100 million in new funding.
You know what $100 million buys?
The company had already planned on building “thousands” of robots when it raised the €50M. With another $42M in the bank, they can build thousands-er more bots. And those delivery robots will be scurrying across college campuses and city sidewalks soon enough to bring you a burrito, or a bag of groceries.
But the big story about Starship’s big fundraise isn’t even about the startup itself. Head back to the site where I lay out how the real story is what this money means for Starship’s competition.
Have I still not convinced you that you are the gaseous/gastronomous center of the food universe yet?
Then let me end this portion of the newsletter by pointing you to Yo-Kai Express, which just a couple of weeks ago publicly debuted its self-driving hot ramen vending machine.
Dubbed the “Yatai,” the autonomous noodle house on wheels combines a lot of what we’ve just covered. This vending machine is fully stocked with frozen bowls of ramen and will start out on a college campus. If you’re a lucky student there, you simply grab your phone, order your ramen and the vending machine will drive to wherever you are. Along the way, the Yatai cooks your meal so when it arrives — voila! — your hot meal is ready to eat.
The robots are coming for you, but you’ll be happy when they arrive.
Video: First-Look at Piestro’s Pizza Making Robot
Whenever I mentioned that I was in El Segundo last week, without missing a beat, each one of my friends said “Did you leave your wallet?” I can’t imagine how many times the people who actually work at the Wavemaker Labs in El Segundo offices have to endure that joke.
I was in El Segundo to get my first look at Piestro’s robot pizza vending machine. The self-contained kiosk does so much I feel like an infomercial: It sauces! It tops! It cooks! It slices! It boxes! But wait… there’s more! It also stores your pizza in a special cubby where you pick it up. Piestro is even developing a special type of box you can open up use as a kind of platter to eat pizza in the park in a more civilized manner.
I did a full video showing you the inner workings of the Piestro in action, and I even got to try a slice. The good news is that the pizza is
stellar delicious! The bad news is that you’ll probably have to wait until next year to try one of your own.
Ch-ch-ch-changes to OttOmate.news
I started this issue pointing out that OttOmate.news posts new stories every day. And this week I tweaked the site to make finding those stories easier. This isn’t the most revolutionary change, but I added section headers to the site. This way if you’re looking for stories on restaurant robots or delivery robots or vending kiosks, etc., you can jump directly to them.
Hopefully this small adjustment can make a big difference in how you enjoy the site.
What Do We Do About Russian Food Robots?
Obviously, the fate of Russian startups building coffee and delivery robots should be the last thing we think about as Russia continues its brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. But as sanctions against Russia increase, even our small, automated corner of the world now needs to consider the provenance of the robots we endorse or purchase.
Grubhub, for example, is using Russian tech giant Yandex’s delivery robots here in the U.S.. I reached out to the company to see if that deal was still in place, but did not hear back. The robot delivery market is young, but accelerating. Should Grubhub continue this relationship when there are plenty of less problematic robot alternatives?
And here’s something you may not know, Russia and Belarus are home to three different robot barista startups: FIBBEE, MontyCafe and Rozum. As the CEO of FIBBEE told me via DM this week, he was planning on bringing his robot to the U.S. this year and said he’s not giving up. But will buyers give up on his company?
I feel like I’m sliding into jingoist language here, and that scares me a little. I don’t want to punish people for the actions of a government. But sadly, these are questions your company may have to consider as it looks to invest in automation.
Here is list of resources assembled by The Washington Post that you can use to help the people of Ukraine.
Podcast: Listen to OttOmate’s Q&A with the NSF
If you missed OttOmate’s live Q&A with Orsi Dézsi of NSF International last week, you missed out. Dézsi provided a wonderful primer on working with the NSF and how to get your robot food safety certified. We also took a bunch of great questions from startup founders like you.
But just because you missed the live Q&A doesn’t mean you have to miss out entirely. You can listen to the entire show in podcast form on our site or on your preferred podcast player! It’s about an hour, but it’s an hour well spent that can save your business months of time, money and effort as you come to market.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading.
Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ‘90 rulez.