DoorDash buys startup behind salad-making robot


DoorDash buys startup Chowbotics, which makes robotic vending machines that can whip up dishes on demand. — AP

Restaurant meal delivery service DoorDash on Monday said it bought the startup behind a robotic vending machine capable of whipping up salads, parfaits, poke bowls and other dishes on demand.

DoorDash said it would use Chowbotics to help merchants expand their menu offerings as they get into new markets "without investing in an entirely new store."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Chowbotics is the creator of a boxy machine it calls "Sally" that can make and dispense fresh meals.

Looking a bit like a cross between a small refrigerator and a vending machine, Sally keeps ingredients in a chilled, airtight compartment then relies on robotics to prepare requested dishes, according to the Chowbotics website.

"While salad bars, vending machines, and even automats may sound familiar, Chowbotics has successfully built and commercialised a product that provides made-to-order fresh meals at the touch of a button," DoorDash general manager Penn Daniel said in an online post.

The machine is in use at hundreds of universities, hospitals and grocery stores, according to Daniel.

San Francisco-based DoorDash raised $3.4bil (RM13.80bil) in a stock market debut at the end of last year, with investors hungry to bite into emerging tech sector firms catering to pandemic lifestyle shifts.

Delivery of meals and groceries has boomed during the pandemic, with restaurants offering no or limited dine-in options and people fearful of exposure to Covid-19.

DoorDash, which competes with GrubHub and Uber Eats, operates a leading online platform connecting people ordering food with those willing to deliver it. – AFP

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