This is the web version of our weekly Spoon newsletter. Subscribe today to get all the best food tech news delivered direct to your inbox!
This issue of our newsletter is a bit a of a two-for-one. We’re going to talk about the future of food robotics and invite you to join us at our upcoming virtual summit — where we’ll talk about the future of food robotics.
But first, the news.
There were three stories this week that, when taken together, help form the basis of the question, What will food robots look like as they become more mainstream? For now, we’re focusing on robots that serve food and drinks, and not on the totes and rails of grocery automation. Consider these three robots:
- Revolmatic’s countertop beer-dispensing robot can pour 450 brews an hour.
- Piestro’s automated pizza vending machine added pay-with-your-face functionality.
- Blue Hill’s articulating robot arm uses computer vision to mimic the techniques of human baristas
The Revolmatic is a machine, plain and simple. Hook it up to a keg and it will just crank out beer after beer after beer. The Revolmatic can be used bare bones as a bartenders assistant, or there’s a version with a contactless payment system, turning it into a vending machine. This type of brute force pouring could definitely come in handy selling drinks at high-traffic locations like a beer garden, stadium or festival.
Piestro is making a standalone machine that can make a pizza in three minutes and hold up to nine pizzas in smart lockers for pickup. While it is a big, enclosed kiosk and makes food quickly, the clear glass allows users to watch the pizza being made adding a theatrical aspect to the process. It’s easy to imagine Piestros in an aiport or corporate campus or mall, cranking out pizzas all day.
Then there is Blue Hill, which is positioning itself as using robots to create a premium coffee experience you find at your local cafe. This robot purposely moves at the same speed and, thanks to advanced computer vision, the same movements as human baristas. This means the robot froths milk, high pours and even makes latte art just like a person. It aims to put some art into automation.
I like these three examples because they present a sort of Goldilocks scenario when it comes to food robotics. Revolmatic is all about brutalist speed and throughput, Piestro adds some colorful design and human interaction to its robot while still pumping out pies, and for Blue Hill, speed is sacrificed to make a more specialized product.
That’s not to say there is a “just right” size and shape for food robots. There is plenty of opportunity for a range of offerings. But it is worthwhile to think about what we are going to want from robots. Do we want co-bot assistants that just take over grunt work? Yes. Do we want good food produced quickly? Sometimes. Do we want artistry with our automation? Maybe? All of these answers are dependent on context (where they are located, how much time we have, etc.), and this is all new — we don’t know how users will react to robots.
But it’s these types of questions that we will be tackling at our upcoming ArticulATE food robotics and automation virtual summit on May 18. We will be talking with industry leaders about robotic topics like last (and middle) mile delivery, restaurant robots, restaurants that are robots, smart vending machines, autonomous driving, as well as the evolving rules and regulations around automation.
We have a ton of great speakers lined up including executives from FedEx, Manna drone delivery, Chowbotics/DoorDash, Zippin, Tortoise, Swisslog, Refraction AI, Gatik, Karakuri, Future Acres, Yo-Kai Express, Mukunda Foods, Pix Moving and many more.
The one day event is being held on the Hopin platform, so you can learn and participate in the day from the comfort of your own home. Get your ticket today!
Sophie’s Bionutrients Debuts New Burger Made from Microalgae – The Singapore based startup can currently make between 20 – 100 patties per week.
AeroFarms Partners With Hortifrut to Grow Blueberries, Caneberries Via Vertical Farming – The decision to grow blueberries and caneberries makes this project standout.
Squarespace Acquires Hospitality Management Platform Tock for $400M – Restaurants using Sqarespace for their website can now integrate order and guest management services.
Tracking the Next Generation of To-Go Concepts for Restaurants – This intelligence briefing for Spoon Plus looks at some some off-premises success stories to come out of the pandemic-era restaurant industry.