A robot doesn?t have to weld automobiles together or prospect on Mars to make a positive contribution to the cause of advancing robotics, brewing and serving cups of coffee will do fine. In fact, with more than 400 billion cups of coffee consumed each day worldwide, being a barista is hugely important?and being of service to humans one on one is a good way to build friendships.
The world’s most popular beverage
Entrepreneurs are taking a close look at putting robots into their business plans, especially in retail food and beverage environments. Coffee is but one?but a big one that fits well with a robot?s basic skill set.
The Coffee Research Organization and the National Small Business Development Support Center claim that statistics estimate that Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee daily, which equals about four-and-a-half thousand cups of coffee each second. To be sure, that?s a whole lot of coffee and a whole lot of servicing humans involved…plus a great opportunity for robots.
Today, we show you two such successful introductions of robots into the coffee service biz? Briggo and ZipWhip:
Wired Magazine?The first version of Briggo?s robotic coffee shop went online in November 2011 at the University of Texas and it appears to be a hit with students and professors alike.
Customers can order drinks off the web, a smart phone app, or at the kiosk itself. Even before ordering, the status of the queue and estimated time for each drink is clearly listed. This gives the customer some flexibility to choose a quick coffee drink over their favorite americano if the queue is backed up. Payment is handled at the time the order is placed so all that?s left to do is pick up the coffee on the way to class. The robot can even send a text when the drink is done.
The current menu offers a wide variety of drinks, including most espresso drinks, chai, milk steamers, and hot chocolate. Customers can pick a few different options like sweeteners, milk, and non-dairy creamer. Favorite drinks can be saved and re-ordered with a single click. The only thing missing was the ability to add extra shots to a drink, something that I was assured would be addressed in a future version.
The Briggo creates each drink with a robotic precision that ensures a consistent product every time. The robot mimics world class baristas in how the coffee is ground, tamped and ultimately how the shots are pulled. After tasting the drinks I can verify that they have the precision down well.
Version two is in the works and is being developed for hospitals, airports and shopping malls. Expect to see the first one pop up at the Austin airport sometime in the future. I, for one, welcome our new coffee robot overlords.
GeekBeat?How many days of the week do you find yourself rushing out the door with no time to brew yourself a cup of coffee? When that happens, chances are you might decide to hit the drive-through at Starbucks. The only problem is that you’re rarely the only person to decide to swing by Starbucks on the way to work, so you’re likely to find a mile-long line of cars.
Now, imagine if you could just text your order to Starbucks. When you arrive, your beverage is ready to go. No line. No waiting around. No more being late to work. That’s the promise of Zipwhip’s Textspresso, although I doubt we’ll see it at a Starbucks any time soon.
Zipwhip is a tech company that developed a cloud-texting service that allows you to send and receive texts from your computer. To show off this technology, the company created Textspresso, the world’s first text-enabled espresso machine. Here’s how it works: Simply send a text with your order to this robotic barista, and it will grab a clean mug, grind some beans, and brew you a delicious espresso.
When your beverage is ready, the Textspresso moves it to a warming tray so it’s still toasty warm whenever you arrive. And the pièce de résistance? The Textspresso comes equipped with an inkjet printer that will print the last three digits of your phone number in edible ink on the foam of your drink. That way, you know exactly which mug is yours–unless someone else’s phone number has the same last three digits. (Eh, no system’s perfect.)
This nifty robot is basically a fancy espresso machine hooked up to a computer and a couple of robotic arms. The computer receives your order via text and relays it through an Arduino controller to the espresso machine, which then springs to life. The computer is set up to send texts back to you in order to let you know that it has received your order and to notify you when your drink is ready.
Zipwhip has no plans to commercialize the Textspresso, but it does plan to open-source the build plans and code, so if you really need one of these machines in your house, you’ll have to build one yourself. Then, on those really lazy days, you’ll be able to text yourself a coffee without ever getting out of bedRead More