By Matthew Niksa
BU News Service
People looking to buy freshly-baked loaves of bread anytime they go to the grocery store may soon get their wish thanks to the “BreadBot,” a fully-autonomous bread-making machine unveiled at CES.
Invented by the Wilkinson Baking Company in Washington, the BreadBot fully automates the bread-making process by mixing, forming, baking and cooling the bread on its own. A baker starts the BreadBot’s multi-step baking process by pouring dry dough mix through a large funnel. The machine measures the dough and mixes it with water and yeast.
After kneading the dough into oval-shaped loaves, the machine places the loaves in individual baking pans to rise before baking. After the loaves are baked, they are placed in a cooling chamber where people can view each loaf and purchase them through a touchscreen. A mechanical arm then carries the loaf to the customer. The whole process takes about an hour and a half and a new loaf cycle restarts every six minutes, allowing the machine to bake 10 loaves of bread an hour.
Eric Wilkinson, head of operations for Wilkinson Baking Company, said the BreadBot would allow customers to buy bread that is healthier and fresher than bread shipped from factories to grocery stores.
“You don’t need preservatives and all that other stuff because it’s made locally,” Wilkinson said.
The BreadBot would be the first fully-autonomous bread-making machine to be installed in grocery stores, said Randall Wilkinson, president of Wilkinson Baking Company. Randall said the company plans to test BreadBots in grocery stores owned by three of the top five U.S. grocery chains by the second quarter of 2019 but declined to disclose the names of specific chains.