The rise of the machines is here with Kodiak Robotics, Nuro and Miso Robotics' emerging programs
Once the stuff of science-fiction novels and episodes of the Jetsons, robots are increasingly making their way into our lives, bringing added efficiency and safety to everyday tasks.
In recent weeks, Kodiak Robotics announced a collaboration with Werner Enterprises, one of the nation's largest traditional trucking companies, to showcase how self-driving trucks can be used with a classic transfer hub model.
The partnership commenced in August with a week-long pilot program in which a Kodiak self-driving truck, accompanied by a human “safety driver,” completed four tours involving eight trips between Dallas and Lake City, Florida
In a similar pilot test announced this week, Kodiak has teamed up with furniture retailer IKEA to run deliveries from its Houston warehouse, to its stores in Dallas, a distance of nearly 300 miles.
And Nuro, a maker of small self-driving vehicles that are designed to transport consumer goods, has signed a 10-year deal with partner Uber Eats. Consumers can order food from various restaurants and a self-driving vehicle – which lacks driver’s seats or steering wheels – will soon be making deliveries in Mountain View, Calif. and Houston. After testing the delivery service in those two cities, the companies have plans to expand into the Bay Area.
The rise of the machines isn’t confined to autonomous vehicles. Miso Robotics has started rolling out its Flippy 2 robot, which automates the process of deep-frying potatoes, onions and other foods. A large robotic arm takes frozen French fries and other foods out of a freezer, dips them into hot oil, then deposits the ready-to-serve product into a tray. A number of restaurant chains have signed up to use this robotic fry cook, including Jack in the Box, White Castle, and CaliBurger.
Speaking of beverages, Bloomberg reported that Liquid Death, a three-year-old fast-growing bottled-water company that is valued at $700 million, received an additional $70 million investment from a group of backers including Science Ventures and Live Nation Entertainment. Liquid Death has brought creativity to a crowded industry by packaging mountain water in what resembles a beer can; one investor thinks it may be the fastest growing non-alcoholic beverage maker of all time. Indeed, the company could have a valuation of $1 billion in a year or so.