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Ohio Northern University’s ‘Express Treats’ serves satisfaction around Ohio

Aug 6, 2009

Ohio Northern University’s “Express Treats” robotic ice cream machine will serve ice cream treats at various Ohio locations in August.

On Aug. 5, the creators of Express Treats will take the robot to serve ice cream at WLIO’s noon broadcast. The robot will also dish up ice cream at the Auglaize County Fair from Aug. 6-8, and will make an appearance at Hefner’s Dairy Barn on Aug. 9 from 1-10 p.m.

At the 2009 Ohio State Fair, Express Treats made its public debut and served free ice cream treats to 1,500 people in three days.

Express Treats was designed and built by ONU faculty and recent graduates as the first product in their start-up company, “Interactive Robots.” It serves food in a way that is both fast and entertaining to watch. In September 2008, students in ONU’s Department of Technological Studies built the prototype for the system, and since then, the design has become more complex, incorporating an ice cream blender to mix in candy toppings.

Those instrumental in the design and production of the robot were Adam Stienecker, assistant professor of technological studies and director of the ONU Robotics Center of Excellence; Rich Miller, visiting instructor in technological studies; and recent ONU graduates Johnathan Rankin, Jacob Ryan, Scott Nemeth and Cody Grieshop.

“Due to its close ties with the Robotics Center of Excellence in the Department of Technological Studies at Ohio Northern University, this new company will not only benefit those involved, but it will also provide research opportunities and experiential learning opportunities for future students in the department,” Stienecker said.

The project has opened new doors and opportunities for the ONU technology students who worked on the robot and will provide a solid foundation for incoming students who want to work on similar concepts.

Rankin said, “I have not only benefited in furthering my education after graduation, but also have taken an opportunity to do something risky early in my career. I have always dreamed of being a part of a start-up company in the early stages of a brand new industry, and ONU and hard work on my part have made this possible for me and my colleagues at Interactive Robotics.”

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