Rising to the occasion and debuting at CES 2019 is the aptly named Bread Bot -- a fully automated bread-making machine that mixes, kneads, proofs, bakes and sells bread like a vending machine.
The Bread Bot looks like a Rube Goldberg machine encased in a transparent baby Airstream trailer. It also continuously smells faintly of fresh-baked dough. Developed by the Wilkinson Baking Company in Washington, the standalone device is meant to be leased by retailers and groceries to serve up fresh-baked bread to customers.
It includes a multi-step process made of conveyors and and levers that begins with a large funnel. Food companies or bakeries pour their proprietary dry dough mix in this funnel, and the machine will measure out and mix it with water and yeast.
After the mixture finishes, well, mixing, the machine kneads the dough into oval loaves. The loaves are placed in individual baking pans where it proofs. When the bread finishes proofing, it then begins to bake in a high-humidity chamber. With the particular Bread Bot I saw at CES, the oven maxes out at 395 degrees Fahrenheit, but different configurations can reach different temperatures.
After the loaves bake, it then goes into a cooling chamber. This is where customers can view the bread they want and purchase it using the attached touchscreen. Once a loaf is selected, a mechanical arm will fetch it like a common vending machine. After that, the bread can be bagged, taken home, eaten and make its way inside many happy bellies. The whole process takes about an hour and a half and a new loaf cycle restarts about every six minutes.
Although there is no official pricing yet, company reps estimate that the machine will cost retailers about $100,000 over a five-year lease. Wilkinson is also working with a company in Berlin to develop a machine that can produce sourdough bread.
There are no plans (yet?) to release a smaller, personalized bread-baking machine, which is pretty crummy. Until that day comes though, the editors at CNET are taking the Bread Bot very, very seriously.
CES 2019: See all of CNET's coverage of the year's biggest tech show.
CES schedule: It's six days of jam-packed events. Here's what to expect.