Robo Revolution

Capitalizing on the fro-yo craze, this self-serve machine dispenses the sweet treat through use of a robotic arm. Yes, you have heard of frozen yogurt—but have you been served the cool treat by a robot? This is exactly what Allan Jones, CEO of Robofusion in Charleston SC, is looking to achieve with a frozen yogurt kiosk that is set to revolutionize the already thriving industry. According to market research firm Mintel, sales of frozen yogurt registered a 74% increase between 2011-2013 and the numbers continue to look bright with many franchise concepts getting in on the action. With the growing popularity of vending concepts, the Robofusion kiosk marries two popular trends—frozen yogurt and self-serve together. Machine mechanics The Robofusion kiosks dispense yogurt and ice cream in two sizes by using a touch screen for selections. Customers can pay using a credit card or cash for an RFID card that is inserted into the machine. On one version of the kiosk they can then choose a robot “character”—which will in turn determine the music and motions the customers are entertained with. The kiosk’s specialty is a “five-layered” treat with customers picking from a variety of toppings and yogurts for each layer. Popular flavors include vanilla and chocolate, and toppings can range from Reese’s pieces and M&Ms to chocolate-covered sunflower seeds. Once the selection is made, a robotic arm fills the cup, adds toppings and delivers the treats to the customer through a revolving platform. Spoons come from a covered dispenser on the outside. Concept creation The genesis for the machines came from a simple idea Jones had in 2007 that...