Californian food-service robotics start-up Chowbotics has developed a compact vending machine dubbed Sally that dispenses customisable salads in 60 seconds.
To operate the robot, patrons use a touchscreen display to select either a chef-created salad or one of up to 1,000 different customisable variations using ingredients such as kale, seared chicken, olives and walnuts. Sally then measures out each pre-chopped ingredient and dispenses the salad. It also lets consumers control the number of calories the salad contains by adjusting ingredients.
Approximately the size of a mini refrigerator and taking up less room than a traditional salad bar, Sally reduces food waste by keeping the ingredients cool and avoids potential contamination by removing the human element of preparation.
Currently in use at Palo Alto-based restaurant and market Calafia Café, run by Californian ex-Google chef Charlie Ayers, Sally is also on trial at several small offices in California, where a third party is responsible for refilling ingredients.
See also Smart Sustenance and Post-Kitchen Lifestyles for insights into mobile vending as part of in-office culinary replenishment.