Back in college, whenever I rode my bike through the Gasworks Park neighborhood in Seattle, I’d get hit with the smell of bread baking as I passed the local bread factory.
As you can imagine, it was wonderful.
And now, Wilkinson Baking Company hopes to bring the best smell in the world to your local grocery store with its new bread making robot, the Breadbot.
The BreadBot, which made its debut last night at CES Unveiled, is a standalone bread robot that can make up to ten loaves of fresh bread per hour from scratch. The machine is fully automated, so after the store employee adds in bread mix to the mix hopper, the BreadBot mixes, forms, proofs, bakes and cools the loaves of bread.
The bread robot was designed to make bread pretty much anytime during the day (or night), and could be scheduled to start the process up to three hours before a store opens. So when the early rising morning shift worker unlocks a store with a Breadbot inside, not only will the smell of fresh bread waft out, but over a dozen loaves will be waiting to be sold.
“It’s the first time bread can be made in a fully automated fashion, start to finish,” said Dr. Randall Wilkinson, the CEO of Wilkinson Baking Company.
Wilkinson envision the BreadBot going into grocery stores, where the machine can sit in the bread aisle and make bread in front of customers. The company’s been trialing the breadbot in local grocery stores in eastern Washington and the results are basically what you’d expect.
“You see the crowds here at CES, that’s what happens in the store,” said Wilkinson. “The consumer comes in, says ‘what’s this?’, and if you’re a retailer you say, ‘that’s what I want.'”
The BreadBot is part of a larger trend of automation and robotics enabling more localized creation of food types that are normally made in a big factory somewhere. Much like the Bellwether coffee roasting machine can push coffee roasting out to the local neighborhood coffee shop, the Breadbot allows the local grocery to offer fresh made bread made in-store.
“Imagine taking a $150 million bread factory, slicing it up into small pieces, move that out into the grocery store, and make it fresh there rather than in the factory,” said Wilkinson.
You can see my full interview with Dr. Wilkinson and see shots of the BreadBot in action in the video below (bread smell not included):