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Robotic vending machine rides in Silicon Valley

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Robotic vending machine rides in Silicon Valley

For the vending machine, Sally made a cruel salad.

On a visit to Chowbotics“The Bay Area Headquarters in March, when it was possible to visit, I tapped my order on Sally’s touch screen. Immediately, the plastic cylinder arranged in a concentric ring rotates back and forth so that the paddle that rotates at the bottom of each container can eject romaine lettuce, cooked grains, pistachios, Parmesan shavings, and a spoonful of the right sauce into the compost bowl, finished working, he made a bell that reminded me of a Las Vegas slot machine.

Just a few months ago, Chowbotics and fellow Bay Area makers from a high-tech vending machine that sold cappuccinos, hot ramen, and croissants warmly discussed their appeal in terms of freshness and 24-hour comfort. Then COVID-19 makes dangerous food orders for workers and customers. Suddenly, the thought of machine-smoothed food seemed less new and more like a survival strategy.

Chowbotics chief executive Rick Wilmer said Sally’s demand had skyrocketed since the pandemic struck, especially in hospital cafeterias and grocery stores that had removed salad bars because of safety concerns.

“If you are an N95 mask company or a ventilator company, and you are in a business that is driven as a result of an epidemic, that’s really good luck,” he said. “I can’t call it luck. But [we have] a solution that fits the world as it is today. “

Sanath Bhat, hardware technical leader at Chowbotics, showed the company’s Sally salad vending machine.

(Noah Berger / For The Times)

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Given the enthusiasm of Silicon Valley for burger robots and pizza delivery robot robots (failed), it is inevitable that technology companies will turn their attention to vending machines, poor rescuers from bakeries and enemy dieticians. According to the National Automatic Merchandising Assn., More than 4 million vending machines are deployed throughout the United States, serving 40 million people per day. The Association estimates that vending machine manufacturers, operators and brokers contribute $ 10.1 billion to the U.S. economy. in 2017.

One of the first robot vending machines to appear in San Francisco was Cafe X, which has an articulated arm that directs the cup from the espresso maker to the customer’s window, before waving the brace with dystopian insouciance. Shortly after its debut in 2017, he joined the Hayward-based Yo-Kai Express, whose machines produce hot bowls filled with ramen, udon and pho brothy. Bake Xpress, which makes hot croissants, sandwiches and mini pizzas, first appeared in public this winter at UC Berkeley; a Texas coffee company called Briggo installed a barista robot at San Francisco International Airport in January. Even more than these machines are located in private offices, schools and factories.

Robot Cafe X releases a cappuccino at San Francisco International Airport.

Robot Cafe X releases a cappuccino at San Francisco International Airport.

(Noah Berger / For The Times)

Chowbotics founder Deepak Sekar, originally a mechanical engineer in the flash-memory industry, said that to make Sally do simple deceptive tasks such as providing the right amount of mangoes or fragile lettuce, the company took advantage of advances in robotics, sensors and mobile technology to producing machines that it sells for around $ 35,000.

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Over the past 20 years, Heidi Chico, chief executive of Wittern Group, a manufacturer of vending machines in Des Moines, has seen a number of inventors try to reinvent vending machines.

“I have seen a pizza machine, a French fry machine, a fresh fruit juice machine – believe it or not, the lobster vending machine is alive,” he said.

Chico calls the food and beverage segment of his industry “mature markets,” meaning one without much room for growth. His company still makes candy-bar-and-chips machines but is switching to devices that issue hospital scrubs and computer equipment.

“We do not consider ourselves to be vending machine manufacturers,” he said. “More than producers controlled expenses.”

Amanda Tsung, chief operating officer of Yo-Kai Express, said he also did not mention the ramen vending machine. “We call ourselves an autonomous restaurant solution,” he said, and immediately laughed, aware of turning to talking technology. Then he floated another tag: the restaurant in the box.

Yo-Kai Express ramen vending machine at the Metreon center in San Francisco.

Yo-Kai Express ramen vending machine at the Metreon center in San Francisco.

(Noah Berger / For The Times)

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Even before COVID-19 forced more than 5.9 million US restaurant employees out of work in March and April, according to Restaurant Business magazine, the California restaurant industry felt pressure from rising rental prices and minimum wages. If the bistro shifts to table service to reduce servers, will visitors be more open to restaurants in the box?

“Vending machines will not replace restaurants,” said Chris Albrecht, chief editor of Spoon, who tracks the progress of food technology. “This is meant to go to places where the restaurant is not feasible.” University dormitory. Company office. The airport whose concession was closed before the last flight departed. Albrecht even imagined the appearance of a vending machine, where customers could buy a variety of fresh food 24 hours a day.

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This isn’t enough restaurant food. Cafe X, I must say, makes Americano respectable, using beans from top-class grills. When I ordered the $ 11 tonkotsu Yo-Kai Express ramen at a shopping mall before closing, a thin plastic steaming bowl emerged from a machine containing al dente noodles and soft roast pork in thin broth no better or worse than a restaurant offer. neighbor food court. The Bake Xpress’ UC Berkeley location, currently closed, issued a $ 6 mini pizza with pale cheese and crust that hardens when I eat.

A bowl of ramen is distributed by the Yo-Kai Express vending machine at San Francisco International Airport.

A bowl of ramen is distributed by the Yo-Kai Express vending machine at San Francisco International Airport.

(Noah Berger / For The Times)

Before the closing of the pandemic, Chowbotics had sold more than 100 Sallys – some for salad chains in Southeastern countries that saw robots as “mini locations.” Given the machine’s small footprint, it also helps clients choose the best place to place the salad robot. “If you get the wrong location, you can simply roll it,” Sekar said. “And the price is 10 times cheaper than a store.”

The company found a special niche in the hospital with workers and patients 24 hours, where sales peaked after the cafeteria closed. “Unlike in the salad bar, food is contained, minimizes oxidation and contact, keeps food safer and tastier!” Ochsner Medical Center in Baton Rouge, La., Wrote on Facebook before the pandemic.

Sally, Chowbotics salad waster robot

Sally, the Chowbotics salad waster robot, has found a niche in the hospital with 24-hour workers.

(Noah Berger / For The Times)

The niche has only been developing since March: According to Chowbotics, 70 hospitals now have Sallys, quadrupling its placement in just three months. (Farmer Fresh, a Midwest company whose vending machines produce rowdy salads, has also seen business multiply in more than 100 hospital locations since COVID-19 hit.)

Sally keeps her salad ingredients at a constant temperature and food-safe below 40 degrees, which according to the Chowbotics representative has helped the health examiner receive them.

Vending machines that sell hot food take longer to get the green light regulation. Benoit Herve, chief executive of Le Bread Xpress, which “micro-bread maneuvers” cools the cake into a microwave-infrared combination oven, said that every time he put one of his machines, he had to explain it to the local health department.

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“We work very closely with them to explain what we can do, what we do, to ensure that we meet any conditions,” he said. Now that he has several machines, he says he is starting to find a certain regulatory momentum that should remove the obstacles to spread his bread machine further and wider.

::

Currently, pale food safety issues are compared to COVID-19 fears. California is in the midst of easing restaurant and bar restrictions, but more than half of Americans are still worried about entering, according to a May 20 poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Many contactless food choices that appear during closure may become permanent. Reservation and payment systems such as Tock and Square introduce new ways to order food and pay without having to sign the touch screen. This month a cafe in Portland, Ore., Bought a robot coffee maker similar to Cafe X to make a basic drink. Automat dumpling cakes are scheduled to open in New York in July.

In the short term, high-tech vending machines have experienced a drastic decline in restaurant-owned sales, because many locations where they operate have been closed or inactive. (In fact, Cafe X and Briggo, two coffee machines that focus on the airport, stop returning The Times emails.)

A traveler passes by the Briggo coffee vending machine at San Francisco International Airport.

A traveler passes by the Briggo coffee vending machine at San Francisco International Airport.

(Noah Berger / For The Times)

But the atmosphere in many companies is good. “If you look at the big picture, it shows that without supervision will be the main strategic direction for future food choices,” Herve said.

The company also develops products outside the machine.

Yo-Kai Express began selling ramen cutlery through its website, offering delivery in the Bay Area and shipping to Southern California. According to Chief Executive Andy Lin, the company has been tracking the release of applications quickly that will allow users to order and pay for machine-made noodles through their mobile phones. These changes, Lin said, existed before the pandemic struck.

Chowbotics CEO Wilmer said that his company released a smartphone application in the coming weeks to enable contactless bookings. He sent inquiries from senior centers and grocery stores, and chefs and company programmers were developing refrigerated foods – barbecue bowls, breakfast vegetables – that Sally could gather customers for a microwave at home.

Just three months ago, the founders of Chowbotics saw their market niche as supplying salads in places that could not be served by the salad bar. Now the salad bar has largely disappeared, and no one knows whether or when they will return. Their disappearance vacuum was created to change the company’s path. Convenience might be the initial selling point for high-tech vending machines, but COVID-19 has presented a better one: needs.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets Ptix.bm For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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CRISTANO RONALDO CAN MAKE UP A GIANT IN CARIOCA AND PORTUGUESE TECHNICIAN SAYS ‘There will be room’

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CRISTANO RONALDO CAN MAKE UP A GIANT IN CARIOCA AND PORTUGUESE TECHNICIAN SAYS 'There will be room'

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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