Hospitals, by and large, are places that you want to get in and out of quickly. But they are also places that are open 24 hours a day, with staff and visitors working or milling about throughout the night. This type of always-awake environment, it turns out, is the perfect place for Chowbotics‘ food robot, Sally.
Sally is a standalone salad (and bowl food) making robot. There are currently 50 Sally robots deployed around the world, and Chowbotics Founder and CEO, Deepak Sekar told me in a phone interview that the company has found particular success early on in hospitals.
To give you a sense of how Chowbotics defines success, Sekar said that locations that buy or lease a Sally need to sell 7 bowls a day to break even. At a Sally deployment in Las Vegas last month, Sekar reports that Sally was selling 120 bowls a day, and at a new Sally that came online last week at the North Oaks Health Care hospital in Lousiana, Sekar said they were selling 65 to 70 bowls a day.
One of the reasons for the success of Sally’s North Oaks locations is that the hospital’s cafeteria closes down at 2 p.m., so there is no place for staff or visitors to get fresh (as fresh as a hospital cafeteria is, anyway) food later in the afternoon or throughout the night. Sekar said that though there is a definite lunchtime peak in sales, there are sustained sales throughout the afternoon and evening, and another spike at midnight when shifts change, and people on the hunt for something to fresh to eat instead of vending machine food.
Sekar is so high on hospitals right now that they are an area of focus for the company. “Hospitals in general are doing really well, because they are places where people are hanging around at midnight or early in the morning,” said Sekar, “We find robots are a great fit.”
Because Sally is connected, Sekar can also see what types of salads people are creating. Though each Sally comes with standard recipes that you can order (e.g. Roasted Chicken Chopped Salad), Sekar said that 85 percent of bowls served were customized (Romaine lettuce and chicken were the most popular ingredients, edamame and ham the least).
Chowbotics isn’t stopping at salads, however. The company announced last year that it was expanding into bowl foods and is currently rolling out Indian, Mediterranean and Latin menus options in Sally. Cafeterias could become a thing of the past in places like hospitals as high-tech vending operations like Sally, or Cafe X’s robo-barista, and Basil St. Cafe’s hot pizza oven all come online to satisfy cravings any time of day or night.
If you’re curious about Sally, or have a question for Deepak, both robot and human will be live (and, err, plugged in) at our upcoming ArticulATE food robot summit coming up on April 16 in San Francisco! Get your tickets and get a glimpse of our automated future!