3 robotics developments to watch

A fully automated boba machine makes its way to market, and two existing bots get upgrades.
Photograph courtesy of Bobacino

The universe of restaurant robotics seems to be expanding by the day. Here’s a look at a few of the latest developments, including a brand-new boba-making machine and upgrades to two existing bots.


This new robot (pictured above) aims to bring automation to boba tea, offering restaurants either an in-house add-on or a way to expand their reach with branded stand-alone units in places like malls or college campuses. 

The fully automated machine is built around a robotic arm to add an element of “surprise and delight” to the tea-making process, said Bobacino CEO Darian Ahler. It will offer three flavors to start with and will be stocked with enough ingredients to make 200 drinks. 

Bobacino is still in its early stages and is hoping to raise $3 million via equity crowd-funding platform StartEngine.

Pricing of the bot is still being determined, Ahler said, but will be somewhere in the ballpark of $50,000, plus a monthly fee.



Photograph courtesy of Picnic

The robotics company recently introduced an updated version of its pizza-topping bot. 

Changes include a sleeker and more transparent design that allows guests to see more of the process at work, said CEO Clayton Wood.

The latest version is also easier to clean, with parts that disassemble easily and can go through the dishwasher. It also features improved refrigeration and computer vision for ingredient distribution.

After a successful pilot at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Picnic launched its commercial operation this fall and expects 2021 to be a big growth year. It has partnerships with a franchise pizza chain and a college campus, and others are in the works, Wood said.



Photograph courtesy of Chowbotics

Chowbotics has added new features to salad robot Sally, including a mobile app that enables contactless ordering.

Customers can use the app to view the menu and order from anywhere. Once they arrive at the nearest Sally, they scan a QR code on their phone to retrieve their salad.

Not only is this a safer experience, but it also improves throughput by reducing the time it takes to order, the company said. 

New robots will also have a video interface that will allow operators to feature specific bowls or other marketing. 

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