Karakuri, a London-based food robotics company, today unveiled its DK-One meal assembly robot. The company also announced that it has raised £6.5 million (~ $8.68M USD) in new funding led by firstminute capital with participation from Hoxton Ventures, Taylor Brothers, Ocado Group and the Future Fund. This brings the total amount of funding raised by Karakuri to £13.5 million (~ $18.3M USD).
Karakuri first popped on to our radar in May of 2019 after Ocado, a robot-forward grocer based in the U.K., led Karakuri’s Seed round of funding. At the time, we knew Karakuri was working on the DK-One but didn’t know what the machine looked like or what it was capable of.
Meant for QSRs, catering companies and grocery retailers, the DK-One is an all-in-one enclosed 2m x 2m kiosk that assembles various cold and hot ingredients into prepared meals. The DK-One doesn’t cook any food, but rather holds ingredients at proper temperatures until the order is placed.
In its current pre-production version, the DK-One holds 18 ingredients (fruits, yogurts, proteins, veggies, etc.), can make between 6 – 12 bowls at any one time (depending on the complexity of the individual orders), and can make 100 bowls an hour.
Once an order is placed either through a mobile app or accompanying tablet, an articulating arm inside the DK-One grabs a container, fills it with the necessary ingredients and deposits the finished meal into a cubby for pickup. You can see it in action in this video:
The DK-One is arriving, of course during a global pandemic, when restaurants, food retailers and customers are all looking for ways to reduce the amount of human-to-human interaction involved with getting meals to customers. In addition to removing the number of people interacting with an order, the DK-One provides additional hygiene in other ways. The ingredients themselves are individually stored in their own compartments, keeping them away from the outside while preventing cross-contamination. The DK-One also provides temperature monitoring and auditing to ensure that the cold ingredients are kept cold and the hot ones hot.
Karakuri’s robot only takes two to three people to operate on-site, and it’s easy to see the DK-One at a grocer or cafeteria, cranking out meals through out the day: Yogurt bowls in the morning, and switching to hot vegetable or chicken dishes in the afternoon.
Barney Wragg, CEO and co-founder of Karakuri, gave me a Zoom demo of the DK-One last month and told me that inbound interest in the DK-One has changed since the pandemic.
“Pre-pandemic the biggest amount of interest was from the challenger brands, the guys trying to come up with new poke restaurant. They had the least legacy systems,” Wragg said. But the pandemic was a huge wake up call for bigger brands and Wragg said they’ve seen a massive surge of interest from large chains in Europe and around the world.
Wragg wouldn’t say how much the DK-One costs, only that Karakuri is exploring different models for different customers.
In addition to being useful during a pandemic, the DK-One also aligns with other food-making robots we’ve seen from an operational perspective. Like Picnic’s pizza assembling robot, the DK-One dispenses a specific amount of food each time, helping to eliminate waste during production. Like Spyce’s new Infinite Kitchen system, the DK-One also allows for customization, so people can order a meal more to their dietary or taste preferences.
The first DK-One will be installed this June at an undisclosed location. With its fresh funding, Karakuri says it will accelerate the development of its technologies and develop new products.