Tag Archives: robotics

Flippy Gets a New Gig at White Castle

The fast food industry has long had a labor problem. It can hard to find restaurant workers, particularly for fast-food chains where the jobs can be long, hot, and greasy. Add in food safety preparation issues for handling the COVID-19 pandemic and the problem grows. One of the more thankless jobs is probably working the fryer. It’s boring, repetitive, and carries a high risk of burns from hot oils.

White Castle, with 365 restaurants in the U.S., is piloting a new solution at a store in Chicago. Coming to the rescue is Flippy, the robot-on-a-rail (ROAR), that will soon be working the fry station. Flippy has a long, articulated arm that glides along an overhead rail to work the fry station, including filling the basket, timing the oil, and removing the fries without burning anyone. Safer food prep can help employees focus more on the customer, and less on production.

Flippy is a product of Miso Robotics in Pasadena, Calif., and is billed as the world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings. It can work a grill or fryer, cooks perfectly and consistently every time, collaborates with kitchen staff, and is OSHA safety-compliant. The robotic arm isn’t cheap though. Flippy costs between $60,000 – $100,000.

Hungry for fries?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who was worked at a fast-food restaurant? What was the experience like for them?
  2. Show video of Flippy at White Castle: https://youtu.be/5vjf13h2f6o
  3. View videos and more information at Miso Robotics: https://youtu.be/5vjf13h2f6o
  4. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  5. For Flippy the robot food-preparation product, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  6. What are key considerations in each step?
  7. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  AdWeek; Forbes; Tech Crunch; other news sources

 

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Fresh Food Vending Machines

Consider the humble vending machines. They are virtually everywhere, and we do mean everywhere! We see them in stores, hallways, offices, subway stations, laundry mats, gas stations, and more. Not only are the vending machines convenient, but they are easy to use, can take cash or cards, and consumers do not have to interact with a cashier or sales person. Easy. Fast. Convenient. And, usually not very good eating.

Yes, the common vending machines as just that – common. They have been around so long that they no longer excite consumers. There is nothing particularly interesting, and virtually little food that is healthy for us. When was the last time you looked forward to eating a meal or snack dispensed by a vending machine?

That may be about to change with the advent of new machines that dispense fresh, healthy food in high density locations. Instead of soda, candy bars, and chips, today’s machines carry salads, yogurt parfaits, pudding, specialty coffee drinks, and much more satisfying fare. Not only are the foods better, the service is faster than stopping at a fast-food joint and waiting in long lines. And, as an added bonus, some of the machines will even recycle the packaging to reduce waste.

Here are few of the new alternatives:

  • Farmer’s Fridge – 400+ machines in office buildings and food courts in six states
  • Fresh Bowl – Seven locations in New York
  • Chowbotics – 100 salad robots that build orders from touchscreens
  • Le Bread Xpress – Five bake machines that cook croissants, pizza, and quiche
  • Briggo – High-end coffee cars that make 100 custom drinks per hour

Hungry and in a rush? Let’s meet at the vending machine.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where are vending machines? What do they buy form vending machines? Why do they buy from vending machines?
  2. Divide students into groups. Have each group take an existing vending machine and work out an update for today’s consumers.
  3. Alternative: Show Web sites of new vending machines dispensing fresh food and have a team of students analyze each vending machine and company.
  4. For each company, determine the target market, where it should be located, and the messaging.

Source: Black, J. (13 February 2020). The machine that lets you skip the salad bar. Wall Street Journal.

 

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Snack Robots are Invading Campuses

Robots are invading! Ok, maybe they aren’t exactly invading the entire nation, but they do seem to be infiltrating some college campuses. Rest easy though – these robots seek not to dominate, but instead to satisfy students’ craving for delivered snacks.

The self-driving robots are being tested for “last mile delivery” courtesy of PepsiCo, and have been deployed to serve students at the University of the Pacific’s campus in Stockton, Calif. The robots, developed by robotic company Robby Technologies, carry a variety of healthy snacks and drinks from Pepsi’s ‘Hello Goodness’ product line. Ordering and delivery on campus is easy using an app that is available to all students with a University of the Pacific email address. With a single charge, the robot can travel 20 miles to find a multitude of consumers eager for a quick snack.

The robots do have a normal work hour shift of 9-5 (sorry, no late night munchies) and deliver products to 50 areas around the campus. The robots are equipped with cameras and headlights so that they can navigate in rain and darkness. And, with six-wheels and all-wheel drive, curbs, rough paths, and steep hills can be handled with ease.

Students – are you hungry now?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the impact of robots and drones on marketing.
  2. Show a video of the Pepsi SnackBots: https://youtu.be/skUbYVmRogI
  3. More information can be found at Pepsi’s Website: https://www.pepsico.com/news/press-release/pepsicos-hello-goodness-snackbot-is-off-to-college01032019
  4. Information on the robots from Robby: https://robby.io
  5. Discuss how to build and use a SWOT analysis grid: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (internal and external factors).
  6. Break students into teams and have each team build a SWOT analysis grid.
  7. Based on the analysis, what are the issues and risks that might occur?
  8. Debrief by building SWOT analysis grid on the white board.

Source: Ad Week, other news sources

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