Entertainment

The toast of this year’s CES is the BreadBot, a bread-making robot that produces a loaf every six minutes

We’ve come a long way in 30,000 years: from frying gruel on hot stones to a bread-making robot producing freshly baked loaves every six minutes. BreadBot, toast of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), can produce 10 loaves of bread an hour and only requires humans to add dry ingredients and carry out daily cleaning.

BreadBot makes “most” types of bread that use dry ingredients, including sourdough and rye, according to a statement from maker Wilkinson Baking Company. The Walla Walla, Wash.-based company, which has been working on the BreadBot for more than two decades, designed the machine especially for grocery stores. (Given its daily capacity of 235 loaves of bread, it could be a bit excessive for home use.)

“Bread is a staple of American life. But in most supermarkets today, it has lost its emotional connection with the shopper,” CEO Randall Wilkinson said in a statement. “In the age of home delivery, The BreadBot attracts consumers back to the store because it delivers fresh, delicious bread that is produced with theatre and engagement.”

The machine mixes the dough into balls, places them on a conveyor belt, shapes the balls into loaves, proves (the final rise before baking) them and then places them in individual trays for baking. Once the bread is baked, a robotic arm transfers the fresh loaves to a vending machine where customers can select one using a touchscreen. For each loaf of bread, the process takes roughly 90 minutes and, because the product is designed for high turnover, it doesn’t require preservatives or additives.

According to CNET, the BreadBot will be available to lease or buy and has an estimated value of $100,000. Wilkinson Baking Company sees applications for the innovative machine beyond grocery stores, saying that most food providers, including schools and convenience stores “can benefit from the compact 22-square-foot BreadBot, which is more automated than a $75 million bread factory.”

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