Retail Robotics

By Joann Plockova

Fancy a cup of coffee made by a robot, a robotic arm mixing your drink, or your pizza crust perfected by The Doughbot? Welcome to the 21st-century and beyond. Aiming to improve efficiency and consistency while providing consumers with an entertaining experience, robotics is making waves in retail. It’s not about taking the human touch out of the equation, but about creating a fun, high-tech experience that leaves employees with time to focus on other tasks, ultimately improving the retail experience even more.

1. In San Francisco, Café X Technologies has opened its first Café X robotic café in the downtown Metreon Shopping Center. Customers can order from the espresso-based drinks menu in advance via the Café X app or on-site at the ordering kiosk. Either way, they can watch the Mitsubishi robotic arm prepare their specialty coffee to perfection without the wait time. “It is a fun, cool experience,” says Founder and CEO Henry Hu. “[The benefits also include] improved consistency (our coffee tastes good all the time) and improved accuracy (we don’t get orders wrong or give orders to the wrong person).” Partnered with likeminded local roasters, like AKA Coffee and Peet’s Coffee, the company emphasizes that it is not about replacing baristas or the coffee shop experience, but rather offering the best possible experience for those who are looking for consistent specialty coffee to-go.
Photo (right) courtesy of Café X

2. Also in the Bay Area, Zume Pizza describes its offering as the perfect marriage of food and technology. Along with the world’s first “Baked On the Way” food delivery vehicles with their patented Cooking en Route technology, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company recently introduced The Doughbot, an efficient and consistent dough presser that turns “any dough ball into the perfect pizza crust five times faster,” they say, and improves on quality by pressing the dough into the optimal baking size and shape.
Photo (top left) courtesy of Zume Pizza

3. On the Las Vegas strip, Tipsy Robot is the world’s first land-based robotic bar. With the assistance of “Galactic Ambassadors,” aka humans, the concept has two robotic arms manning the bar that can shake, stir, slice and muddle just like any proper bartender. “The robotic bartenders are an attraction, like the fountains outside the Bellagio or the sign on Las Vegas Boulevard,” says owner Rino Armeni. “Our two robot bartenders have been programmed to create the perfect cocktail each and every time. It’s quality craftsman-ship and world-class mixology rolled into one.” Signature cocktails and custom-made drinks can be ordered via app or tableside tablet kiosks.
Photo (bottom left) courtesy of Tipsy Robot


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