Whenever I talk with a food robot company, particularly a startup building an automated kiosk or vending machine, they always list the same target markets. Those include airports, universities, hospitals, military bases, and basically any location where there are a lot of people coming through at all hours of the day. So my ears perked up when Alex Barseghian, Founder of RoboEatz, said his company was looking to set up its robot in the middle of nowhere.
Specifically, Barseghian mentioned setting up his company’s robot in a “remote mining facility” during the automation panel I moderated at our Restaurant Tech virtual summit yesterday. Barseghian didn’t provide specifics, but it’s not hard to imagine what a “remote mining facility” might look like, and why a robot might be useful there.
RoboEatz makes a 200 sq ft. self-contained robotic kiosk that stores 110 ingredients and uses an articulating arm to assemble a variety of both hot and cold meals. Aside from someone to re-stock ingredients and handle the occasional maintenance, the machine does everything on its own.
This autonomy, and the robot’s ability to make a meal every 30 seconds, makes it perfect for high-traffic places like airports. Busy people on the go can get a hot, restaurant-quality meal served up any time of day or night. But the autonomy also makes it perfect for places where there aren’t a lot of people and not a lot of access. Rather than sending a cook and setting up a kitchen in a remote area, which can be expensive, a robot can take care of that work. Just set the kiosk up once and regularly top off the ingredients, the robot will take care of the rest.
No only do meal-making robots like those RoboEatz and Karakuri and YPC Technologies operate independently, they can serve food across day parts (yogurt in the morning, pasta at night) and around the clock, so they can feed people working odd hour shifts. Additionally, robots can offer a variety of menu options, rather than a cook making one meal for everyone at a facility. People in the remote situation could order the meal they want and get it in minutes.
The broader point to consider is that while remote areas may not be as top of mind or even immediately as lucrative as other high-traffic locales, food robots installed in these locations could have a much bigger impact for the people who live there.