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Where Food and Robotics Meet

September 11, 2015
Where Food and Robotics Meet

Meet Corrigan Nolan and his team.  They are helping others explore the world of food, how it’s changed and what a meal means to us.

Meet team 1

Corrigan is obsessed with consumer product design, technology, and dad dancing. He has worked as a design engineer for kitchen appliances since the beginning of his career to make products people love using. His research in human-computer interaction is in effort to further our understanding of how technology and people can best complement each other. His work at Sereneti is a further amalgamation of his drive to leverage technology to increase the quality of life for everyone.

Meet team 2

Jesse is a seasoned technology veteran with fifteen years of experience working in software and systems startups; he’s even founded a couple of his own. Along the way, he developed a keen sense for identifying and nurturing technology with a purpose.  This sense, combined with a love of robots and food, is the driving force behind his work with Sereneti.  He specializes in machine learning, robotics, and software ecosystems, and is an impassioned tinkerer.  To him, Sereneti is a great example of where technology meets a great need and a great purpose.

Meet team 3

Tim spent the last decade with a forward thinking company that is redefining robotics in healthcare. Having led a variety of projects domestically and internationally, Tim has a keen eye for observing human-robot interactions. While traveling abroad, Tim always finds the most authentic places to have a local meal. By combining his love for food and robotics, Sereneti has become a passion of his unlike any other, to make food healthier, tastier, and more affordable than ever before.

Let’s take a look as Corrigan describes their project….
This project is the flagship for a three person startup called Sereneti Kitchen (pronounced serenity). We are looking to leverage robotics to bring healthier, fresher, home-cooked meals to those who don’t have access to it (whether it be because of disabilities, general lack of skill, or lack of time to cook). The device is called Cooki. We are trying to do for food, what Keurig did for coffee. Instead of K-cups, we supply trays of fresh ingredients. To use Cooki, the user would load the trays that correspond with a meal into the machine. Then, the user would use our smartphone app/web app  to set Cooki to have a meal ready for you at a certain time.

Here’s how it works….
It cooks one pot meals.  First, trays of fresh ingredients are inserted into the machine. Then, using the app, the meal is selected and the time that the meal should be ready is specified.  The recipe tells the machine when to start, when to add the trays to the pot, when and how the robotic arm should stir, and what temperature the induction cooktop needs to be. When the meal is done, it notifies the user that they are ready to enjoy their meal.

Our team is comprised of a business guy, software/electrical guy, and myself (mechanical engineer). From the initial idea to now; the team has been at it for almost a year now. I joined the team seven months ago and that is how long we have been working on this version of the machine. We just graduated a hardware accelerator called Highway 1 in SF. During our time in the accelerator, we were filmed for an episode of a new reality TV show that follows startups during their time in accelerators (its called Bazillion Dollar Club and airs next month).

We have faced a lot of challenges making this. Working on a shoe string budget when making something as complex as a robot that cooks food is difficult. I had to find a way to get all of the electronics out of the arm so that it can be a washable part in the near future. Making a frame that was modular enough to prototype and change on the fly was a difficult problem that we were able to solve using u-channel from ServoCity.

The idea originally came from the founder’s twin sisters. After a long day at work, their exhausted mother would have to slave away in the kitchen before passing out. Tim, the founder, was working in robotics on the business side so his sisters came to him with the idea of making a robot that cooks food so their mother wouldn’t have to work so hard after a long day. He challenged them to prototype something and they came back with a Keurig with a spatula attached to it. The rest is history.

The best part of the project is the food. We have some of the more delicious experiments… even the “failures”.

A few of the delicious meals it cooks include:
Lentil clam chowder
Lamb saute


Thai green curry with chicken
Thai green curry with chicken

Cheddar egg scramble
scrambled eggs

Fried Rice
Kale Salad
Pesto pasta
Pesto pasta

Meatballs, peas, and pasta with a light cream sauce
Meatballs and pasta

Teriyaki Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken

We are currently raising money, generating revenue through a machine that we have installed in the Highway 1 incubator, and working toward a final product.

To learn more about Corrigan’s and his team’s build be sure to visit their website and Facebook page.

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