Rise of the robots: how technology is redefining how we cook and eat

Rise of the robots: how technology is redefining how we cook and eat

By
Laura Robinson
September 15, 2020

Your steaming hot stir-fry arrives, cooked just the way you like it. When the waiter checks in, you send your compliments to the chef. And he tells you that the dish was actually prepared by a robot. How do you feel?

Automated solutions have long been used in food packaging, where speed, consistency and repetition are key. But with consumers increasingly opting for more convenient, personalised and contact-free solutions and businesses eager to keep costs in check, robots may soon be making their way into a kitchen near you. 

In fact, experts predict that the global food robotics market will grow by 12.7% each year, reaching $3.1 billion by 2025. The way that solutions are being deployed is also changing. As AI and IoT technology develops, robots are no longer relegated to warehouses and back of house. They’re becoming co-workers - or cobots (collaborative robots) - or even the main event in some food service concepts. 

So this week, we get to grips with what’s driving this robot invasion and explore how they’re transforming the food value chain - from picking your produce to your cheeky Saturday night burger.


Trend drivers: COVID-19, cost efficiency and 24/7 service


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we order and enjoy our food. On the one hand, it’s driven the growth of online ordering and the development of ghost kitchens serving the delivery market. On the other, it’s left us aware of the vulnerability of human-dependent processes. Unlike robots, humans can get ill and need time off. We can also forget to wash our hands and accidentally spread germs. So many consumers and business owners are increasingly open to automated solutions. 

Then there’s the question of labour costs that typically make up the biggest slice of the restaurant operating costs pie. Of course, some jobs may be harder to automate - like the chefs whose culinary-trained brains come up with an ever-changing array of tempting dishes. But for some concepts, consistency, speed or customisation is what matters most. And this is where robots can potentially be a cost-efficient solution. They can help restaurants to increase their often paperthin profit margins or invest more in quality ingredients to tempt in new customers with a gourmet offer at affordable prices.  


As we juggle increasingly busy work and personal schedules, we expect to be able to buy food as and when we need it. In many countries, opening hours are getting longer and you won’t have trouble ordering a late night snack after your night out. Given that robots don’t need sleep nor breaks, they minimise downtime, ensure business continuity and make it easier for business owners to offer their customers a round-the-clock service.

Robots at work: fruit pickers, chefs, baristas and mixologists


In the food service sector, robotic solutions are typically most popular where consistency, speed or personalisation is important - ghost kitchens, canteens or fast or fast-casual food settings. Tech-loving colleagues in the beverage market have also got machines mixing cocktails, making customised and contactless smoothies and pouring the perfect flat white

Burger restaurant, Creator, also claims that robots are helping to democratise culinary techniques that were previously only accessible to high-end restaurants. Using 350 sensors and 20 microcomputers, their front-of-house robot can magic up gourmet burgers for just $6 from start to finish in five minutes. Until the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the brand was doing well and had extended its opening hours to welcome evening diners


But even the latest technology doesn’t guarantee success. San Francisco pizza chain, Zume Pizza, for example, developed robots that could press dough into a perfect circle in just nine seconds. But after bagging $375 million in investment in 2018 and hitting the media circuit hard, the company closed earlier this year, apparently due to - amongst other issues - machines producing metal shavings that could’ve ended up in their pizzas.


In retail, companies like Knapp have developed automated solutions to help business owners drive efficiency in emerging business segments, like home delivery for e-commerce and drive-through concepts. While Saga Robotics has recently raised $11 million to develop an automated modular robot to help out with fruit picking. Their system also claims to be more sustainable, as it allows producers to reduce pesticide and fungicide use, while using precision farming technology to increase yields.

Battle of the bots: Flippy vs. Beastro


US-based Miso Robotics put their first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant to work in a Caliburger kitchen back in 2018. Their solution - lovingly named Flippy - has some pretty impressive skills. He uses 3D cameras and thermal sensors to identify ingredients, cookware and utensils. He also learns from his surroundings, acquires new skills over time and optimises cooking decisions in real time. This means that he can grill 300 burgers an hour - and can run for up to 100,000 hours continuously. 

Originally sold as a floor standing model, the company will soon be releasing a new model that is suspended on a rail above the grill to save space. In a recent interview, Miso Robotics CEO, Buck Jordan, shared that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to accelerate their growth. After raising $6.8 million in the US and £4.5 million in the UK through successful crowdfunding campaigns, the team recently announced that a number of restaurant chains will now be making Flippy part of their teams. 


Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, Kitchen Robotics recently launched Beastro - the world’s first fully-programmable robotic kitchen. Using Cuismo, a cloud-based operating system powered by AI, it can serve up to 45 dishes per hour - from soups and salads to our Italian and Asian favorites. Recognising the rapid growth in the ghost kitchen sector, the solution is specifically designed with these customers in mind. The company’s marketing messages clearly focus on the machine’s ability to integrate with major delivery service partners and reduce labour costs by more than 50%, as well as the added benefits of personalisation, optimisation and dish analytics to keep waste to a minimum. At $5990 a month, it’s not a solution that every dark kitchen can sign up to on a whim. But apparently Beastro will be making its big debut in two US cities by the end of this year.

Novelty or necessity?


Despite their benefits, food robots still require significant upfront investment in terms of money and time. Many food businesses don’t have the financial flexibility to take a punt on something new or aren’t willing or able to wait for the return on investment. Service-based, plug-and-play models or intuitive modular solutions might help lower the barriers to entry and enable innovative smaller and medium sized businesses to experiment, while only paying for what they need. 
So far, food robots in consumer-focussed concepts remain somewhat of a novelty. To add value in the longer term, solutions need to be effectively integrated into businesses’ wider operations or concept and be able to work effectively alongside their human co-workers in a way that adds real value. If the tech geniuses can crack that, they may just see a broader range of businesses getting on board with the robolution.

The 30-second pitch: Food robots


🔎 What

  • Entrepreneurs are now using AI and IoT technology to create food robots that can interact with co-workers or even become a central part of a food service concept.


🤷‍♂️ Why

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has left consumers more open to automated, contactless solutions.
  • Businesses are looking for ways to make cost savings, while offering their customers convenient, round-the-clock solutions.


🧬 How

  • Restaurant kitchens (food prep)
  • Ghost kitchens (food prep for delivery orders)
  • Manufacturing (processing, warehouse distribution)
  • Retail (warehousing, stock control)
  • Agriculture (fruit picking)


👀 Who


👍 The good

  • Automated solutions can mean faster, more personalised, more hygienic and more affordable meals. 
  • Savings made on staff costs and kitchen space can be passed on to consumers in the form of better quality ingredients and customer service.
  • Robots in retail and agriculture can improve efficiency and reduce waste.


👎 The bad

  • Some are concerned that robots may start to replace more repetitive food sector jobs - but others claim that this is not the case. 
  • A snazzy technological solution alone won’t cut it. Business owners will need to think carefully about how their solution fits into wider operational processes, their concept and their teams as a whole.


💡 The bottom line

  • Robots offer significant potential for increased efficiency. But there’s still some way to go before prices sink to a level that most mainstream restaurants can afford. Service-based or modular plug-and-play models may help here.


Written by
Laura Robinson

From policy geek to digital consultant, Laura has always enjoyed bringing people together through words or tools to drive positive change. She is most proud of finally taking the leap into entrepreneurship by founding Pink Pear Agency - a network of passionate specialists who help food businesses grow innovative projects and share their stories with the world. Laura is currently interested in project development and management, digital tools, content strategy and copywriting.

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  • Read Unlimited Articles
  • Access Member Directory
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Your steaming hot stir-fry arrives, cooked just the way you like it. When the waiter checks in, you send your compliments to the chef. And he tells you that the dish was actually prepared by a robot. How do you feel?

Automated solutions have long been used in food packaging, where speed, consistency and repetition are key. But with consumers increasingly opting for more convenient, personalised and contact-free solutions and businesses eager to keep costs in check, robots may soon be making their way into a kitchen near you. 

In fact, experts predict that the global food robotics market will grow by 12.7% each year, reaching $3.1 billion by 2025. The way that solutions are being deployed is also changing. As AI and IoT technology develops, robots are no longer relegated to warehouses and back of house. They’re becoming co-workers - or cobots (collaborative robots) - or even the main event in some food service concepts. 

So this week, we get to grips with what’s driving this robot invasion and explore how they’re transforming the food value chain - from picking your produce to your cheeky Saturday night burger.


Trend drivers: COVID-19, cost efficiency and 24/7 service


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we order and enjoy our food. On the one hand, it’s driven the growth of online ordering and the development of ghost kitchens serving the delivery market. On the other, it’s left us aware of the vulnerability of human-dependent processes. Unlike robots, humans can get ill and need time off. We can also forget to wash our hands and accidentally spread germs. So many consumers and business owners are increasingly open to automated solutions. 

Then there’s the question of labour costs that typically make up the biggest slice of the restaurant operating costs pie. Of course, some jobs may be harder to automate - like the chefs whose culinary-trained brains come up with an ever-changing array of tempting dishes. But for some concepts, consistency, speed or customisation is what matters most. And this is where robots can potentially be a cost-efficient solution. They can help restaurants to increase their often paperthin profit margins or invest more in quality ingredients to tempt in new customers with a gourmet offer at affordable prices.  


As we juggle increasingly busy work and personal schedules, we expect to be able to buy food as and when we need it. In many countries, opening hours are getting longer and you won’t have trouble ordering a late night snack after your night out. Given that robots don’t need sleep nor breaks, they minimise downtime, ensure business continuity and make it easier for business owners to offer their customers a round-the-clock service.

Robots at work: fruit pickers, chefs, baristas and mixologists


In the food service sector, robotic solutions are typically most popular where consistency, speed or personalisation is important - ghost kitchens, canteens or fast or fast-casual food settings. Tech-loving colleagues in the beverage market have also got machines mixing cocktails, making customised and contactless smoothies and pouring the perfect flat white

Burger restaurant, Creator, also claims that robots are helping to democratise culinary techniques that were previously only accessible to high-end restaurants. Using 350 sensors and 20 microcomputers, their front-of-house robot can magic up gourmet burgers for just $6 from start to finish in five minutes. Until the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the brand was doing well and had extended its opening hours to welcome evening diners


But even the latest technology doesn’t guarantee success. San Francisco pizza chain, Zume Pizza, for example, developed robots that could press dough into a perfect circle in just nine seconds. But after bagging $375 million in investment in 2018 and hitting the media circuit hard, the company closed earlier this year, apparently due to - amongst other issues - machines producing metal shavings that could’ve ended up in their pizzas.


In retail, companies like Knapp have developed automated solutions to help business owners drive efficiency in emerging business segments, like home delivery for e-commerce and drive-through concepts. While Saga Robotics has recently raised $11 million to develop an automated modular robot to help out with fruit picking. Their system also claims to be more sustainable, as it allows producers to reduce pesticide and fungicide use, while using precision farming technology to increase yields.

Battle of the bots: Flippy vs. Beastro


US-based Miso Robotics put their first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant to work in a Caliburger kitchen back in 2018. Their solution - lovingly named Flippy - has some pretty impressive skills. He uses 3D cameras and thermal sensors to identify ingredients, cookware and utensils. He also learns from his surroundings, acquires new skills over time and optimises cooking decisions in real time. This means that he can grill 300 burgers an hour - and can run for up to 100,000 hours continuously. 

Originally sold as a floor standing model, the company will soon be releasing a new model that is suspended on a rail above the grill to save space. In a recent interview, Miso Robotics CEO, Buck Jordan, shared that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to accelerate their growth. After raising $6.8 million in the US and £4.5 million in the UK through successful crowdfunding campaigns, the team recently announced that a number of restaurant chains will now be making Flippy part of their teams. 


Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, Kitchen Robotics recently launched Beastro - the world’s first fully-programmable robotic kitchen. Using Cuismo, a cloud-based operating system powered by AI, it can serve up to 45 dishes per hour - from soups and salads to our Italian and Asian favorites. Recognising the rapid growth in the ghost kitchen sector, the solution is specifically designed with these customers in mind. The company’s marketing messages clearly focus on the machine’s ability to integrate with major delivery service partners and reduce labour costs by more than 50%, as well as the added benefits of personalisation, optimisation and dish analytics to keep waste to a minimum. At $5990 a month, it’s not a solution that every dark kitchen can sign up to on a whim. But apparently Beastro will be making its big debut in two US cities by the end of this year.

Novelty or necessity?


Despite their benefits, food robots still require significant upfront investment in terms of money and time. Many food businesses don’t have the financial flexibility to take a punt on something new or aren’t willing or able to wait for the return on investment. Service-based, plug-and-play models or intuitive modular solutions might help lower the barriers to entry and enable innovative smaller and medium sized businesses to experiment, while only paying for what they need. 
So far, food robots in consumer-focussed concepts remain somewhat of a novelty. To add value in the longer term, solutions need to be effectively integrated into businesses’ wider operations or concept and be able to work effectively alongside their human co-workers in a way that adds real value. If the tech geniuses can crack that, they may just see a broader range of businesses getting on board with the robolution.

The 30-second pitch: Food robots


🔎 What

  • Entrepreneurs are now using AI and IoT technology to create food robots that can interact with co-workers or even become a central part of a food service concept.


🤷‍♂️ Why

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has left consumers more open to automated, contactless solutions.
  • Businesses are looking for ways to make cost savings, while offering their customers convenient, round-the-clock solutions.


🧬 How

  • Restaurant kitchens (food prep)
  • Ghost kitchens (food prep for delivery orders)
  • Manufacturing (processing, warehouse distribution)
  • Retail (warehousing, stock control)
  • Agriculture (fruit picking)


👀 Who


👍 The good

  • Automated solutions can mean faster, more personalised, more hygienic and more affordable meals. 
  • Savings made on staff costs and kitchen space can be passed on to consumers in the form of better quality ingredients and customer service.
  • Robots in retail and agriculture can improve efficiency and reduce waste.


👎 The bad

  • Some are concerned that robots may start to replace more repetitive food sector jobs - but others claim that this is not the case. 
  • A snazzy technological solution alone won’t cut it. Business owners will need to think carefully about how their solution fits into wider operational processes, their concept and their teams as a whole.


💡 The bottom line

  • Robots offer significant potential for increased efficiency. But there’s still some way to go before prices sink to a level that most mainstream restaurants can afford. Service-based or modular plug-and-play models may help here.


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  • Read Unlimited Articles
  • Access Member Directory
  • Join a Global Community
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Your steaming hot stir-fry arrives, cooked just the way you like it. When the waiter checks in, you send your compliments to the chef. And he tells you that the dish was actually prepared by a robot. How do you feel?

Automated solutions have long been used in food packaging, where speed, consistency and repetition are key. But with consumers increasingly opting for more convenient, personalised and contact-free solutions and businesses eager to keep costs in check, robots may soon be making their way into a kitchen near you. 

In fact, experts predict that the global food robotics market will grow by 12.7% each year, reaching $3.1 billion by 2025. The way that solutions are being deployed is also changing. As AI and IoT technology develops, robots are no longer relegated to warehouses and back of house. They’re becoming co-workers - or cobots (collaborative robots) - or even the main event in some food service concepts. 

So this week, we get to grips with what’s driving this robot invasion and explore how they’re transforming the food value chain - from picking your produce to your cheeky Saturday night burger.


Trend drivers: COVID-19, cost efficiency and 24/7 service


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we order and enjoy our food. On the one hand, it’s driven the growth of online ordering and the development of ghost kitchens serving the delivery market. On the other, it’s left us aware of the vulnerability of human-dependent processes. Unlike robots, humans can get ill and need time off. We can also forget to wash our hands and accidentally spread germs. So many consumers and business owners are increasingly open to automated solutions. 

Then there’s the question of labour costs that typically make up the biggest slice of the restaurant operating costs pie. Of course, some jobs may be harder to automate - like the chefs whose culinary-trained brains come up with an ever-changing array of tempting dishes. But for some concepts, consistency, speed or customisation is what matters most. And this is where robots can potentially be a cost-efficient solution. They can help restaurants to increase their often paperthin profit margins or invest more in quality ingredients to tempt in new customers with a gourmet offer at affordable prices.  


As we juggle increasingly busy work and personal schedules, we expect to be able to buy food as and when we need it. In many countries, opening hours are getting longer and you won’t have trouble ordering a late night snack after your night out. Given that robots don’t need sleep nor breaks, they minimise downtime, ensure business continuity and make it easier for business owners to offer their customers a round-the-clock service.

Robots at work: fruit pickers, chefs, baristas and mixologists


In the food service sector, robotic solutions are typically most popular where consistency, speed or personalisation is important - ghost kitchens, canteens or fast or fast-casual food settings. Tech-loving colleagues in the beverage market have also got machines mixing cocktails, making customised and contactless smoothies and pouring the perfect flat white

Burger restaurant, Creator, also claims that robots are helping to democratise culinary techniques that were previously only accessible to high-end restaurants. Using 350 sensors and 20 microcomputers, their front-of-house robot can magic up gourmet burgers for just $6 from start to finish in five minutes. Until the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the brand was doing well and had extended its opening hours to welcome evening diners


But even the latest technology doesn’t guarantee success. San Francisco pizza chain, Zume Pizza, for example, developed robots that could press dough into a perfect circle in just nine seconds. But after bagging $375 million in investment in 2018 and hitting the media circuit hard, the company closed earlier this year, apparently due to - amongst other issues - machines producing metal shavings that could’ve ended up in their pizzas.


In retail, companies like Knapp have developed automated solutions to help business owners drive efficiency in emerging business segments, like home delivery for e-commerce and drive-through concepts. While Saga Robotics has recently raised $11 million to develop an automated modular robot to help out with fruit picking. Their system also claims to be more sustainable, as it allows producers to reduce pesticide and fungicide use, while using precision farming technology to increase yields.

Battle of the bots: Flippy vs. Beastro


US-based Miso Robotics put their first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant to work in a Caliburger kitchen back in 2018. Their solution - lovingly named Flippy - has some pretty impressive skills. He uses 3D cameras and thermal sensors to identify ingredients, cookware and utensils. He also learns from his surroundings, acquires new skills over time and optimises cooking decisions in real time. This means that he can grill 300 burgers an hour - and can run for up to 100,000 hours continuously. 

Originally sold as a floor standing model, the company will soon be releasing a new model that is suspended on a rail above the grill to save space. In a recent interview, Miso Robotics CEO, Buck Jordan, shared that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to accelerate their growth. After raising $6.8 million in the US and £4.5 million in the UK through successful crowdfunding campaigns, the team recently announced that a number of restaurant chains will now be making Flippy part of their teams. 


Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, Kitchen Robotics recently launched Beastro - the world’s first fully-programmable robotic kitchen. Using Cuismo, a cloud-based operating system powered by AI, it can serve up to 45 dishes per hour - from soups and salads to our Italian and Asian favorites. Recognising the rapid growth in the ghost kitchen sector, the solution is specifically designed with these customers in mind. The company’s marketing messages clearly focus on the machine’s ability to integrate with major delivery service partners and reduce labour costs by more than 50%, as well as the added benefits of personalisation, optimisation and dish analytics to keep waste to a minimum. At $5990 a month, it’s not a solution that every dark kitchen can sign up to on a whim. But apparently Beastro will be making its big debut in two US cities by the end of this year.

Novelty or necessity?


Despite their benefits, food robots still require significant upfront investment in terms of money and time. Many food businesses don’t have the financial flexibility to take a punt on something new or aren’t willing or able to wait for the return on investment. Service-based, plug-and-play models or intuitive modular solutions might help lower the barriers to entry and enable innovative smaller and medium sized businesses to experiment, while only paying for what they need. 
So far, food robots in consumer-focussed concepts remain somewhat of a novelty. To add value in the longer term, solutions need to be effectively integrated into businesses’ wider operations or concept and be able to work effectively alongside their human co-workers in a way that adds real value. If the tech geniuses can crack that, they may just see a broader range of businesses getting on board with the robolution.

The 30-second pitch: Food robots


🔎 What

  • Entrepreneurs are now using AI and IoT technology to create food robots that can interact with co-workers or even become a central part of a food service concept.


🤷‍♂️ Why

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has left consumers more open to automated, contactless solutions.
  • Businesses are looking for ways to make cost savings, while offering their customers convenient, round-the-clock solutions.


🧬 How

  • Restaurant kitchens (food prep)
  • Ghost kitchens (food prep for delivery orders)
  • Manufacturing (processing, warehouse distribution)
  • Retail (warehousing, stock control)
  • Agriculture (fruit picking)


👀 Who


👍 The good

  • Automated solutions can mean faster, more personalised, more hygienic and more affordable meals. 
  • Savings made on staff costs and kitchen space can be passed on to consumers in the form of better quality ingredients and customer service.
  • Robots in retail and agriculture can improve efficiency and reduce waste.


👎 The bad

  • Some are concerned that robots may start to replace more repetitive food sector jobs - but others claim that this is not the case. 
  • A snazzy technological solution alone won’t cut it. Business owners will need to think carefully about how their solution fits into wider operational processes, their concept and their teams as a whole.


💡 The bottom line

  • Robots offer significant potential for increased efficiency. But there’s still some way to go before prices sink to a level that most mainstream restaurants can afford. Service-based or modular plug-and-play models may help here.


Your steaming hot stir-fry arrives, cooked just the way you like it. When the waiter checks in, you send your compliments to the chef. And he tells you that the dish was actually prepared by a robot. How do you feel?

Automated solutions have long been used in food packaging, where speed, consistency and repetition are key. But with consumers increasingly opting for more convenient, personalised and contact-free solutions and businesses eager to keep costs in check, robots may soon be making their way into a kitchen near you. 

In fact, experts predict that the global food robotics market will grow by 12.7% each year, reaching $3.1 billion by 2025. The way that solutions are being deployed is also changing. As AI and IoT technology develops, robots are no longer relegated to warehouses and back of house. They’re becoming co-workers - or cobots (collaborative robots) - or even the main event in some food service concepts. 

So this week, we get to grips with what’s driving this robot invasion and explore how they’re transforming the food value chain - from picking your produce to your cheeky Saturday night burger.


Trend drivers: COVID-19, cost efficiency and 24/7 service


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we order and enjoy our food. On the one hand, it’s driven the growth of online ordering and the development of ghost kitchens serving the delivery market. On the other, it’s left us aware of the vulnerability of human-dependent processes. Unlike robots, humans can get ill and need time off. We can also forget to wash our hands and accidentally spread germs. So many consumers and business owners are increasingly open to automated solutions. 

Then there’s the question of labour costs that typically make up the biggest slice of the restaurant operating costs pie. Of course, some jobs may be harder to automate - like the chefs whose culinary-trained brains come up with an ever-changing array of tempting dishes. But for some concepts, consistency, speed or customisation is what matters most. And this is where robots can potentially be a cost-efficient solution. They can help restaurants to increase their often paperthin profit margins or invest more in quality ingredients to tempt in new customers with a gourmet offer at affordable prices.  


As we juggle increasingly busy work and personal schedules, we expect to be able to buy food as and when we need it. In many countries, opening hours are getting longer and you won’t have trouble ordering a late night snack after your night out. Given that robots don’t need sleep nor breaks, they minimise downtime, ensure business continuity and make it easier for business owners to offer their customers a round-the-clock service.

Robots at work: fruit pickers, chefs, baristas and mixologists


In the food service sector, robotic solutions are typically most popular where consistency, speed or personalisation is important - ghost kitchens, canteens or fast or fast-casual food settings. Tech-loving colleagues in the beverage market have also got machines mixing cocktails, making customised and contactless smoothies and pouring the perfect flat white

Burger restaurant, Creator, also claims that robots are helping to democratise culinary techniques that were previously only accessible to high-end restaurants. Using 350 sensors and 20 microcomputers, their front-of-house robot can magic up gourmet burgers for just $6 from start to finish in five minutes. Until the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the brand was doing well and had extended its opening hours to welcome evening diners


But even the latest technology doesn’t guarantee success. San Francisco pizza chain, Zume Pizza, for example, developed robots that could press dough into a perfect circle in just nine seconds. But after bagging $375 million in investment in 2018 and hitting the media circuit hard, the company closed earlier this year, apparently due to - amongst other issues - machines producing metal shavings that could’ve ended up in their pizzas.


In retail, companies like Knapp have developed automated solutions to help business owners drive efficiency in emerging business segments, like home delivery for e-commerce and drive-through concepts. While Saga Robotics has recently raised $11 million to develop an automated modular robot to help out with fruit picking. Their system also claims to be more sustainable, as it allows producers to reduce pesticide and fungicide use, while using precision farming technology to increase yields.

Battle of the bots: Flippy vs. Beastro


US-based Miso Robotics put their first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant to work in a Caliburger kitchen back in 2018. Their solution - lovingly named Flippy - has some pretty impressive skills. He uses 3D cameras and thermal sensors to identify ingredients, cookware and utensils. He also learns from his surroundings, acquires new skills over time and optimises cooking decisions in real time. This means that he can grill 300 burgers an hour - and can run for up to 100,000 hours continuously. 

Originally sold as a floor standing model, the company will soon be releasing a new model that is suspended on a rail above the grill to save space. In a recent interview, Miso Robotics CEO, Buck Jordan, shared that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to accelerate their growth. After raising $6.8 million in the US and £4.5 million in the UK through successful crowdfunding campaigns, the team recently announced that a number of restaurant chains will now be making Flippy part of their teams. 


Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, Kitchen Robotics recently launched Beastro - the world’s first fully-programmable robotic kitchen. Using Cuismo, a cloud-based operating system powered by AI, it can serve up to 45 dishes per hour - from soups and salads to our Italian and Asian favorites. Recognising the rapid growth in the ghost kitchen sector, the solution is specifically designed with these customers in mind. The company’s marketing messages clearly focus on the machine’s ability to integrate with major delivery service partners and reduce labour costs by more than 50%, as well as the added benefits of personalisation, optimisation and dish analytics to keep waste to a minimum. At $5990 a month, it’s not a solution that every dark kitchen can sign up to on a whim. But apparently Beastro will be making its big debut in two US cities by the end of this year.

Novelty or necessity?


Despite their benefits, food robots still require significant upfront investment in terms of money and time. Many food businesses don’t have the financial flexibility to take a punt on something new or aren’t willing or able to wait for the return on investment. Service-based, plug-and-play models or intuitive modular solutions might help lower the barriers to entry and enable innovative smaller and medium sized businesses to experiment, while only paying for what they need. 
So far, food robots in consumer-focussed concepts remain somewhat of a novelty. To add value in the longer term, solutions need to be effectively integrated into businesses’ wider operations or concept and be able to work effectively alongside their human co-workers in a way that adds real value. If the tech geniuses can crack that, they may just see a broader range of businesses getting on board with the robolution.

The 30-second pitch: Food robots


🔎 What

  • Entrepreneurs are now using AI and IoT technology to create food robots that can interact with co-workers or even become a central part of a food service concept.


🤷‍♂️ Why

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has left consumers more open to automated, contactless solutions.
  • Businesses are looking for ways to make cost savings, while offering their customers convenient, round-the-clock solutions.


🧬 How

  • Restaurant kitchens (food prep)
  • Ghost kitchens (food prep for delivery orders)
  • Manufacturing (processing, warehouse distribution)
  • Retail (warehousing, stock control)
  • Agriculture (fruit picking)


👀 Who


👍 The good

  • Automated solutions can mean faster, more personalised, more hygienic and more affordable meals. 
  • Savings made on staff costs and kitchen space can be passed on to consumers in the form of better quality ingredients and customer service.
  • Robots in retail and agriculture can improve efficiency and reduce waste.


👎 The bad

  • Some are concerned that robots may start to replace more repetitive food sector jobs - but others claim that this is not the case. 
  • A snazzy technological solution alone won’t cut it. Business owners will need to think carefully about how their solution fits into wider operational processes, their concept and their teams as a whole.


💡 The bottom line

  • Robots offer significant potential for increased efficiency. But there’s still some way to go before prices sink to a level that most mainstream restaurants can afford. Service-based or modular plug-and-play models may help here.