I was recently surprised when dining at the local Thai restaurant where a robotic waiter delivered our meals.
We found the experience quite entertaining, watching the robot scurry from the table, dodging guests and service personnel. The system seems to work well, and there is no doubt of the benefits gained, such as timely delivery of meals from the kitchen and service staff remaining on the floor, not disappearing into the kitchen awaiting meals.
The only downside was that the robot played a repetitive tune to warn people of its approach, which was fun the first five times but became annoying. Impressively the price of this technology now places it in the grasp of small businesses.
Several new technologies and products are being introduced into food service that will become the norm.
There is a range of autonomous service robots entering the market. Many of them are rolling shelves requiring someone to remove the product manually. Their practical use is to ferry meals and dishes to and from the kitchen. While more sophisticated robots are being developed to pick up plates with refined motor skills, but full-service bots may still be a little way off.
A group based in San Francisco has developed a robot that will slice toppings, grill the patty, assemble the burger, and place it in the bag.
The machine also includes a feature that grinds and shapes the meat before cooking and can cook 400 burgers an hour! Wow.
Robotic bartenders are already commonplace on many cruise ships, providing entertainment and consistent execution of an extensive range of cocktails recipes.
These new robots can be placed almost anywhere, and service mixed drinks in less than 30 seconds.
A startup has raised 16 million dollars to roll out a modular system in schools, stadiums and hospitals.
The system spreads and places the toppings and cheese before baking the pizza. The unit can produce hundreds of pizzas per hour.
This robot is made by Kawasaki, the same guy who built motorbikes.
The robot can assemble nigiri in under a minute, using two arms to press rice, apply condiments and pick up fish using a small vacuum.
It is only a matter of time until we see more of this equipment and technology included in kitchen design, architecture, and business models. This is especially true for economies like Australia, where labour costs are high, and there is limited access to specialised skills.
If you need advice and support for your next hospitality project, contact the Alto team.