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One of the reasons to love working at The Spoon is our amazing community of readers (like you!). We love keeping you up to date on all the latest food tech news, but we also like bringing the community together, whether it’s at our events like the Smart Kitchen Summit, or online for one of our awesome Spoon Slack Chats.

Speaking of which, should definitely join us for our Spoon Slack Chat on Food Robotics and Automation coming up this Friday, March 1 at 10:30 a.m. (Pacific). It’s free to participate, and I’ll be moderating this online discussion on the future of automation across the food stack with:

  • Megan Mokri, Founder and CEO of Byte Foods, which puts smart, automated fridges in offices so employees have access to fresh food.
  • David Rodriguez, Head of Business Development, Kiwi, the company behind the the rover robots making food deliveries in Berkeley and Los Angeles.
  • Charlie Anderson, CEO of Augean Robotics, which makes the Burro, a workhorse farm robot that lugs gear and moves picked food around.

The Spoon Slack Channel is a thriving, ongoing discussion among roughly 900 execs from across the food tech industry, from small startups to big brands. These Slack Chats give you a glimpse into the future of a focused topic and let you interact and ask questions. Signing up for the Spoon Slack Channel is free, so join the discussion!

Speaking of robots, our very own Mike Wolf uncovered and got the scoop on a new patent awarded to Amazon for an “Autonomous Ground Vehicle” (AVG). Unlike other delivery robots like the Amazon Scout, the plan would be for this AVG to live at your house (or one for an apartment building)–not a warehouse–and it would go out to retrieve your package from a delivery truck and bring it back. It’s a new take on delivery robots and very intriguing.

Robots, however, are only as good as the software brains powering them. Which is why we are excited to share this Q&A with Vincent Vanhoucke, Principle Scientist with the Google Brain team. In it Vanhoucke discusses the state of AI and where the biggest room for improvement is, the untapped uses for computer vision as well as the difference between programming computers vs. having them learn. You can meet Vanhoucke and hear his talk on food and robotics at our upcoming food robotics summit, ArticulATE, on April 16th.

One thing we’ll need to learn is how exactly California’s recently passed AB-626 will change the food industry. The legislation allows home cooks to sell their food, but as Catherine Lamb writes, Will California’s AB-626 Bill Serve Home Cooks, Entrepreneurs, or Tech Giants? The answer, as is so often the case, is all of the above. The ability to (legally) monetize mom’s home cooking on a large scale is new concept and we’ll have to be vigilant to ensure the rising tide lifts all boats.

Part of the fear around protecting home cooks stems from what’s happening in the restaurant business, where delivery is being driven well-funded tech startups. DoorDash is valued at $7.1 billion right now. Let that sink in. But while people enjoy eating their Big Macs from the comfort of their own couch, that’s an easy way to rack up already high delivery fees. Jenn Marston thinks Subscription Models Are the Future of Third-Party Food Delivery, think: Netflix for food delivery. DoorDash, Postmates and Deliveroo have all rolled out subscriptions services, now we’ll see if Uber Eats and GrubHub do as well.

Finally, you might be enjoying a cup of coffee with this newsletter. From farming to roasting to how you buy it, technology is changing the entire coffee stack. Moyee Coffee and FairChain have teamed up to use blockchain and tokens to help coffee farmers in Ethiopia make more money. Bellwether is now rolling out their ventless electric coffee roasters across the US, which will empower almost any small business to create their own line of coffee. And by the end of this year, there will be not one, but two robots slinging lattes at SFO airport in San Fransisco, as both Briggo and Cafe X will be installing their automated robo-baristas there.

However you get your coffee, be sure to bring it with you when you join our free Slack Chat this Friday!

Be kind,
-Chris

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