When students return to UCLA this fall, they’ll have a new option for fresh, custom smoothies.
A Jamba robot!
Jamba by Blendid is a self-contained, fully automated kiosk. It requires just an 8 x 8-foot space to operate. It holds up to 20 ingredients and typically requires just a few hours of restocking a day.
Otherwise, its job is to blend!
“It’s enabling us to get into location that perhaps we historically couldn’t get into,” said Geoff Henry, president at Jamba, which is affiliated with brands including Cinnabon and Carvel.
“We’re looking for opportunities where we can entice and energize the campus population so it’s part of what we do,” said ASUCLA Executive Director Pouria Abbassi.
The robot uses a combination of hardware and artificial intelligence to fulfill orders on demand.
“[We’re] just really dialing up the convenience and portability and the ability to do a made to order smoothie perfect for the guest,” said Henry.
You can order from your phone or a tablet at the kiosk. Sliders let you customize the amount of ingredients, and you can choose add-ins like energy or protein.
I liked how as you move the sliders, the nutrition facts of your drink update in real time.
The robot has nine cameras inside so it can “see” the ingredients. The mechanical arm works on multiple smoothies at once – dispensing, washing the serving the finished product.
You might even catch it in a little dance when it’s not actively making an order.
Ironically, the actual blending takes place out of view. That’s because it’s potentially the messiest part of the process.
The other challenge? Getting the robot to do a perfect, dripless pour each time. Blendid told me they accomplished this by vibrating the arm as it pours so the smoothie slides effortlessly out of the jar.
“It is not taking away jobs, it is fulfilling jobs that cannot be fulfilled,” said Vipin Jain, Co-Founder & CEO of Blendid.
The company has more than half a dozen of its robots operating at college campuses, malls and even Walmart.
“It never has a bad hair day, it never throws a tantrum, it never takes a sick day, it’s always there to entertain and serve you,” said Jain.
There’s one more bit of magic before you get your drink: magnetic sliders that move your smoothie to a pickup window. It’s a neat thing to see.
As for the taste of the smoothie? You wouldn’t know it comes from a robot, except that you have to put the cap and straw in yourself.