Food Innovation II: A Covid-Sniffing Robots Which can take your order, flip your burger patty and serve you a hot coffee

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Sure, seven months into a global pandemic, time has pretty much lost all meaning? But among all the blood bath we have seen in the F&B industry, Innovation has been constant. In August we had covered about food containers cooking food and fighting corona. This time we are talking about a bot which can smell, take your order, flip your burger patty and serve you a hot coffee and more. It’s not cliché, but necessity is the mother of invention.

The Pandemic Made Self-serving robot – Servi

Bear Robotics and SoftBank announced their new food service robot, dubbed Servi, at an event in Tokyo. The new robot is actually a redesigned version of Bear’s Penny, an autonomous server robot that shuttles food and empty dishware between the front and back of a restaurant.

Servi is coming to market at a time of heightened interest in automation in the restaurant industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought increased scrutiny over the amount and types of human-to-human interactions that happen when dining out. Robot like Servi can also work long hours without a break, won’t call in sick and don’t have to worry about awkward exchanges with customers over wearing their masks (e.g., taking a mask off to eat, putting it back on when ordering).
Coffee in three minutes – The Robotic Coffee Master

OrionStar, the robotics arm of Chinese company Cheetah Mobile, jumped into the automated coffee making space last week with the debut of its Robotic Coffee Master.

The Robotic Coffee Master combines two six-axis robotic arms, computer vision, and artificial intelligence to replicate the complex brewing techniques of human baristas such as curves and spirals. Right now, the robot makes pour over coffees, using its robotic arms to do things like get the grounds into the filter, set the filter on top of the carafe and pour hot water over the grounds. The Robotic Coffee Master can make a cup of coffee in three minutes.

Unlike other robot coffee makers like CaféX or Truebird or Briggo, the Robotic Coffee Master is not a full-on enclosed kiosk. Rather, it is a squat-looking robot that can be set up in more open environment.
Flippy Robot on a Rail (ROAR)

Miso Robotics announced the commercial availability of its cooking bot, Flippy Robot on a Rail (ROAR). The company also announced that it is working with TimePayment so restaurants interested in adding Flippy to their kitchens can do so with no upfront cost.

Flippy can help improve the food delivery experience for restaurants. Flippy’s software integrates with a restaurant’s ordering platform to help process incoming delivery orders from different third-party delivery services. So, if a restaurant gets orders at various times from DoorDash, Uber Eats and GrubHub, Flippy’s software can look at when orders come in and pickup ETAs to coordinate cook times for each part of each order. The result is that food doesn’t sit for a long period of time under a heat lamp, waiting for the delivery driver, which should result in fresher food for the end customer.

Flippy ROAR hits the market with advanced cooking capabilities to quickly learn menu items, allowing operators to appeal to new customers and retain eaters with consistently cooked options. As the restaurant industry looks to reopen and regrow in a post-pandemic world, Miso Robotics plans to offer financing options through Time Payments to empower food service providers to quickly adopt automation technology – now mission critical for addressing ‘new normal’ challenges such as indoor staffing and dining limitation, the need for enhanced health and safety standards, and improved margins as delivery and takeout increase in popularity.
Covid-Sniffing Robots

Koniku makes Konikore, a piece of hardware roughly the size of a cell phone that can detect and identify different odors. Agabi’s vision is to have these devices everywhere to do all manner of tasks, from identifying specific components of flavors to determining when crops are ready to be picked, to even sniffing out COVID-19.

Koniku is using actual protein molecules to detect different compounds that object (such as ripening strawberries) emits. The cells [in the Konikore] are genetically modified to create sensors that would exist in your nose.

Koniku currently has a library of more than 4,000 compounds that it can identify, which the company will ratchet up to hundreds of thousands “soon” according to Agabi. With it, Konikore can authenticate the origin of specific foods like vanilla, or break down components of certain foods so they can be re-created, or detect when food is past its prime.
What’s next?
As businesses prepare to gradually transition back from the WFH model they’ve followed over recent months, reopening of eateries for use with enhanced safety and hygiene is a key priority.

Restaurants are not going to be the same again for a long time to come. Besides the obvious function of being a place where you have your food, cafeterias were also used to hang out and have a conversation & catch up. Such innovations will be an absolute imperative and not a ‘vanity’ metric anymore.