Robots Are Taking over in Foodservice


In Boston, Massachusetts/USA and in Changsha, Hunan/China two restaurants which have something in common went online a few months ago – robots cooking in their kitchens. Admittedly, only a few of the automatized and digitalized helpers will take over a few kitchens short-term, but the development will continue – robots ante portas.

By Dieter Mailander, mailander marketing.


Is a kitchen conceivable, in which the food is freshly cooked, but in which no cooks are working? If yes, then how does this work?

As in many operations in industry, robots are supposed to take over these tasks. At least that is the plan of four former students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the prestigious technical university in Cambridge, Massachusetts/USA. They have developed robots, which are able to prepare food in woks à la minute – almost without supporting intervention from humans.

Since the middle of 2018, their restaurant “Spyce” in Boston, Massachusetts, in which they are testing their casual dining concept, is online. They are supported by a star chef, who is contributing financially to the start-up and has taken over the function of a culinary director. He has brought a colleague with him, who is very familiar with the French art of cooking and combines his classical technical know-how with the innovative technical requirements, which meet the concept.

3 Minutes, Wholesome, Tasty – USD7.50

Spyce is open between 10 and 22 hours daily. The kitchen robots use seven work stations. They are able to serve up to 210 orders an hour, which the guests place by way of tablets and receive their order within three minutes. People are taking care of finishing the dishes and communicating with the guests in the largely unmanned restaurant. The dishes on the menu includes rice and cereal bowls, curries, salads, pasta, and stews – wholesome, tasty and relatively inexpensive at approximately USD7.50.  For their project, the founders collected a capital of around 25 million dollars by means of fundraising experts.

Cobots – Collaborative Robots

Robots are often used today for delimited tasks. An example: metal sheets for dishwashers, serving counters or food distribution trolleys are stamped, bent, or dealt with otherwise by robots. But areas of operations are also increasingly opening up, in which robots and people virtually build up a team, even if it sounds somewhat peculiar. Especially innovative fields of application like operative medical technology are pushing the development of these so-called cobots (collaborative robots) forward. An important pre-requisite for this is that the pieces of equipment are becoming more filigree and sensitive. Highly sensitive control technologies open up entirely new fields of application. Special sensors, for instance, impart a sensitive sense of touch to the cobots. Specialists are convinced that certain gaps that currently exist to more distinctive human sensibility can be closed in a foreseeable timescale.

An entirely different field of application is piece picking in warehouses: 2 or 3D cameras identify objects on shelves, grasp them and take them to a defined place of destination. What began as a highly specialized development for special warehouses, will also be taken advantage of by the foodservice industry in the foreseeable future. From there, the step to the large professional kitchen is not very far and small kitchens will follow promptly.

You can read the entire article in the Nov-Dec print issue of Frozen Food Europe.

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