Time to bid bakers farewell? New robot makes 235 loaves of bread a day

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A robot breadmaker came to Las Vegas this week, aiming to bring some freshness to a sector that may be ready for disruption.

BreadBot, a machine that mixes and bakes up to 235 loaves a day, was unveiled by Wilkinson Baking Company at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Chief executive Randall Wilkinson said the device can lower costs and produce fresher bread than that which is available in most American supermarkets.

“Consumers want the freshest thing possible, but when they go into the store they don’t know when that bread was baked,” said Wilkinson, a member of the family-owned firm in Walla Walla, Washington.

Wilkinson said the machine, which takes up as much room as a mid-sized car, has more automation technology than bread factories, and can produce at a far lower cost.

He noted that using in-store robotic machines could eliminate the need for truck delivery, which accounts for as much as 45 percent of the cost of most bread, which means that profits could get a rise.

According to Wilkinson, the company is in talks with major supermarket chains and also plans to deliver the robots to the US military for making buns on carrier fleets.

The bread robot -- which was at a startup showcase Sunday and will be on the show floor from Tuesday -- joins a line of devices aimed at disrupting the food industry, including pizza-making robots and robotic baristas.

The current generation of BreadBot is designed for producing standard kinds of loaves but Wilkinson said the robots can be adapted to produce customized breads, even French baguettes.

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