Everyone, meet Sally, the salad-making robot. She was invented by the company Chowbotics, and offers to bring nutritious dining options to workplaces and hospitals that don’t have a big dining area. Since she’s a robot, the salads she makes are perfect- they’re clean, sanitary, and most of all, measure all the ingredients precisely, making sure every salad has the exact same amount of ingredients.
However, as with every practical automation bot, Sally has stirred up quite the controversy, as she threatens to replace the jobs of prep cooks if they were ever launched in restaurants.
Source: Youtube, TechCrunch
Rich Page, Executive Chairman of Chowbotics, who once worked with Steve Jobs in pioneering personal computer designs and also the co-founder of NeXT Computer, gave a first look on the finished robot which will soon be installed in offices and hospitals. He even allowed companies a basic view of his new salad innovation.
First of all, Page made clear that Sally was different from a conventional vending machine. Unlike vending machines, Sally uses weight and pneumatic sensors along with other moving parts inside it. “A vending machine will just drop things out,” Page explained. “There’s significant motion in here. The primary weight sensor controls the amount Sally dispenses of each ingredient. Users’ choices determine which ingredients are used at all.”
Whole, chopped, and liquid ingredients are stored in their own individual tubes, and the robot knows which is where, whether it be lettuce, dressing, cheese, etc. The tubes need to be refilled by someone at least once a day, and the robot’s system alerts users when it’s running low on a specific ingredient.
The biggest challenge the company had to overcome when building Sally was making sure it was compact and durable enough to be used in an office, retail, and workplace environment repeatedly. According to Deepak Sekar, CEO of Chowbotics, the company had been receiving queries from several hospitals, as they liked the idea of salads being hygienically prepared by a clean robot, rather than a “sneeze guard” at a traditional salad bar.
Source: Nation’s Restaurant News
Now, to address the issue of the robot “stealing jobs”, Page says that all companies involved in food automation and robotics shouldn’t hold back on innovation. “There’s always some trade-off between existing jobs and new jobs. This causes some frustration in the world. But in general the world goes farther, and things get better for everybody.”
He remembered the days of his career back when word processors had replaced typing pools, and spreadsheets had gone from paper to a digital medium via Visicalc, which ran on the Apple II. Page said, “You can argue that put some people out of work, but it created an increase in productivity, too.”