Chowbotics announced today that it is deploying 50 new salad making robots to hospitals across the country. The company said that by the end of June, it will have a total of 70 Sally robots in hospitals in the U.S. and Europe, up from 16 at the beginning of February.
The coronavirus pandemic has thrust Chowbotics into a unique position, especially when it comes to feeding healthcare workers. Doctors and nurses are working around the clock and need access to fresh food, and Sally, which can make yogurt, grain and salad bowls, can serve a variety of meals for every daypart , 24 hours a day.
Additionally, open salad bars are being removed from cafeterias, restaurants and grocery stores out of concern that they can spread the coronavirus. So finding and selling a salad will get more complicated. Sally’s 22 ingredients are stored in airtight containers that are held within the robot, providing an added layer of protection from outside contamination.
It’s not a good thing that hospitals represent such a big opportunity for Chowbotics and other robotic vending services right now. The fact that hospitals are busy illustrate a sad and deadly fact about the COVID-19. From a strictly cold, business standpoint, Chowbotics’ ability to sell into the healthcare market right now comes at the same time when colleges, the company’s other big customer segment, have shut down, eliminating those lines of business.
With their ability to reduce human-to-human contact, and inability to actually get sick during this pandemic, robots are starting to play a larger role in our meal journey. Robots like Sally are making meals, while delivery robots like those from Starship and Refraction are bringing meals to our doorsteps. As the effect coronavirus has on social distancing continues to ripple long after the virus has receded, we will be interacting with more robots in our day-to-day lives.