AI-powered robots are cooking your dinner

AI-powered robots are cooking your dinner

Your pizza may be made next Friday night by robot hands.

That’s the vision of Ajay Sunkara, whose independent chef Pizzaiola, an AI-powered, voice-controlled pizza maker is making its way into a Chicago-based regional pizza chain, Slide Factory. Automated Chef monitors more than 1,200 parameters every microsecond, from food quality management to a POS machine.

When a customer places an order for pizza, Pizzaiola will pick the dough, press and stretch it; Add sauce, cheese and toppings; Then cook, slice and slice the pizza in the box according to the customer’s specific preferences. It is fulfilled in real time and you can even have a single jumbo slice ready to go through the Slice Factory engine in a matter of minutes.

There is not a single human touch.

“There are robots in the food industry, but in factories, meat processing centers and packaged food processing,” Sonkara says. luck. “We downsized it from industrial to something that could fit in a regular commercial kitchen.”

Pizzaiola is the latest product from Sunkara’s Nala RobotsSankara, who is now the company’s CEO, said he saw an opportunity to innovate in the back of the house in food service; Until then, most of the new products for the hospitality industry focused on point of sale, reservations, and guest experiences. Its primary product, Nala Chef, is a multi-cuisine, customizable robot chef serving a range of dishes at three Nala-owned restaurants in Naperville, Ill.: One means chickenFried chicken concept. Surya StephensSouth Indian Restaurant. And the 76Thai fast food spot.

Artificial intelligence is the basis of Sunkara’s robotic chef. Sunkara has hired friend and chief technology officer Vijay Kodali to employ machine learning for its bot operating system, called Yum OS. What they have built is a robot that not only learns intellectually as a human does, but can also withdraw from the five “senses”. A robotic chef can touch, smell, see, hear, and even taste, thanks to a tasting bar that mimics a human tongue. The senses send feedback to the operating system, creating a learning loop similar to a human, which records all the information for future use. It’s as if the robot is constantly in a cooking school class, but it remembers all the details from the homework.

“All the multiple senses provide the data in a way in which we can make an intellectual decision,” Sunkara says. “This is the process of artificial intelligence as well.”

Sankara explained that the bot keeps track of all input, including customer feedback. If a customer complains that the pizza is too salty or the dish is too hot, they will use this data in future production.

It all goes back to the inspiration of the robotic chef: consistency. Sunkara’s beer-tasting moment came when he realized that automated beer production leads to uniform aromas, flavors, and balance from draft to draft, and from bottle to bottle. But when he looked at restaurant food production, it was largely driven by human energy, which led to subjective tastes and inconsistencies in the end product.

Artificial intelligence is not only programmed to make pepperoni pizza and chicken tikka, but it can also invent dishes. Give him a list of ingredients, and he’ll draw from his knowledge of Chinese, Indian, Thai, and American cuisine to make a meal.

Although the AI ​​system powers the device, the mechanical aspect actually prepares the meal. Sonkara noted that robotic arms have become hugely affordable in the past decade, increasing the average ability of fast-food restaurants to purchase such a machine. (His Pizzaiola robots rent for upwards of $7,000 a month, but he says they save similar labor costs over three years.)

Other products for robotic chefs are out there, and their adoption is promising. The matter has been especially accelerating since the pandemic . Rajat Bhagiriya, founder and CEO of the company said Chef robots. Bhageria products serve as a replacement for the human assembly line cooker in commercial kitchens in fast food restaurants and ghost kitchens. It offers “bots as a service” – robots that can be easily configured to work with different components, portion sizes, containers, and positions within containers. The result, he said, is an adaptive system that can simulate a person’s resilience.

Bhageria explained that the in-line cooking job has a massive turnover rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and that restaurants routinely experience 20% to 50% understaffing. The job requires “redundant movements while standing,” something that’s easy to swap out with automation. This frees the human being for another, more comfortable, advanced or rewarding work.

There are flaws in the robotic environment at a time when the hospitality industry is facing massive labor shortages, especially as a result of COVID-19, and labor costs have increased as minimum wages have risen in states like California.

Since the labor cost also greatly affects the cost of food, this rate hike is passed on to the customers. He explained that Bhageria’s vision is to reduce labor costs to reduce the cost of fresh food to customers – a win-win situation.

“The way this works in any industrial automation is that there are more jobs being created than being destroyed,” says Bhagiriya. “As the cost of making food decreases and scale increases, brands are creating more storefronts and manufacturing plans. This drives the creation of more jobs.”

Robots are also finding their way into home kitchens. Molly Robotics It launched a robotic home kitchen in late 2020. The local version comes with around 5,000 recipes from a group of professional chefs, and works in tandem with a full smart kitchen, like a smart fridge, for a fully automated setup. She will even clean up and wash her dishes.

Bhageria explained that scaling is the next goal, and this is where AI really makes a difference. Since each ingredient varies depending on how it’s grown, processed, and cooked, his company is able to scale through only software configuration changes. The more data is integrated into the operating system, the more flexible and knowledgeable a robot can be.

This can go far beyond the role of the chef, too. Sonkara also added, “We will see more cleaning robots, dish washing robots, work that is hard to find these days. Robots will be able to tackle that in the near future.”

This story originally appeared on Fortune.com

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