The use of robots in restaurants has recently become a hot topic of debate. Some people believe that this new technology will lead to the industry’s demise, with many employees losing their jobs and the human element gradually disappearing. Others see it as a means of cutting costs and lowering employee turnover. Regardless of your view on this technology, one thing is certain: It’s not going away anytime soon. With that being said, let’s take a closer look at the foodservice industry. Add a positive opinion, you are only giving a bad opinion: “others believe that taking away repetitive tasks will actually create a more rewarding environment.”
The Rise Of Robots In Restaurants
The recent Covid-19 pandemic has put a huge strain on the foodservice industry. For instance, many restaurants around the world have implemented social distancing measures in order comply with government regulations. This has resulted in a greater reliance on takeout and delivery which has proven to be significantly more expensive due to high third-party delivery fees. Furthermore, overhead costs and employee turnover have also risen making it more difficult to operate.
In an effort to stay afloat, employers and businesses are choosing to invest heavily into automation and robotics due to the technological improvements and decreasing hardware costs. WHO SAYS?
The founder and CEO of Chowbotics, Deepak Sekar, believes that it’s only a matter of time until food and robotics take off. He even went as far as to say that food (?) will be at the center of the next industrial revolution. With this recent shift in behaviour, the global robotics market is expected to rise to a value of $147.26 billion USD with a compound annual growth rate of 17.4% over the next 4 years.
In the next section, we will be focusing on the various benefits and drawbacks that come with using robotics in restaurants.
Benefits of Robots in Restaurants
Reduce Operational Costs
One of the main benefits of implementing AI & robots in restaurants is the reduction of operational costs. While developing the technology can be pretty expensive, once implemented, the technology can quickly pay for itself. RESTAURANTS ARE NOT THE ONES DEVELOPING IT?
Robots are able to execute many of the repetitive tasks often done in restaurants such as taking orders, cleaning the kitchen, and delivering food & drinks (SPECIFY SERVING TABLES, OR DO YOU MEAN DELIVERING AT HOME?). This can help restaurants offset the rise in employee wages, making it cheaper for them to operate. Furthermore, robots can operate 24/7, unlike humans, increasing the amount of time a restaurant can stay open and allowing them to earn more money. MMM, WHERE IS YOUR EVIDENCE FOR THIS STATEMENT? ARE THEY INDEPENDENT TO ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO DO THIS?
Improve Customer Experience
The second benefit is an improved customer experience. Using robots in restaurants is still a novelty, which means it will generate a lot of attention for establishments. The robots would be able to provide customers with a futuristic and unforgettable experience that would leave them with a positive impression. WHO SAYS?
In addition, robots can multi-task and work at a faster pace compared to humans, thus improving productivity. This reduces the waiting time for customers, allowing for faster checkouts and a better overall experience. This could be a huge improvement to people that are always in a rush as it would mean less time spent waiting.
Fewer Mistakes in the Kitchen
Lastly, robots eliminate human error as they are capable of preparing food and performing back-office functions without fail. This means that accuracy can be increased for each meal while keeping the amount of ingredients used consistent to regulate cost of goods sold. This makes it easier for restaurants to predict accurate forecasts for inventory resulting in less food wastage and lower costs overtime. Furthermore, robots allow customers to review their orders before submitting them. WHAT? This eliminates the possibility of the robot misinterpreting any orders as a human employee might during a busy work time.
Drawbacks of Robots in Restaurants
Lack of Emotional Connection
One of the main issues with using robots in restaurants is the lack of human interaction. This could end up being a major problem as eating out is a common way for people to connect and develop relationships with one another. With the server?
Since customers won’t be able to form meaningful connections with the robots, a majority of people might prefer to be served by humans. The significance of these small interactions in terms of making a customer feel valued should not be underestimated. I GET YOUR POINT BUT THE WAY THAT IT IS EXPRESSED IS NOT CLEAR AND MAKES IT SOUND AS POEPLE GO TO RESTAURANTS BECAUSE THEY WANT OT CREATE A MEANINGFUL CONNECTION WITH THE SERVER
Increase In Unemployment
Another issue with the rise of robotics is unemployment. Robots will be replacing a large majority of the human work force in the upcoming years. This could lead to a significant increase in unemployment; leaving many people permanently unemployed. OK, BUT ACTUALLY WE HAVE A LABOUR SHORTAGE HERE.
High Development Costs
Development of this robotic technology requires a lot of time and money. As a result, larger restaurants and franchises stand to benefit more from this opportunity. HOW SO, IF A STARTUP BUILDS IT, RESTAURANT OWNERS ARE GOING TO PURCHASE/LEASE THESE TECHNOLOGIES. This makes it more difficult for small businesses to compete, while also raising the barriers to entry for anyone looking to open their own restaurant. WHO SAYS?
Lastly, while robots can provide a reliable service within set parameters and boundaries, they are unable to adapt to different environments and or situations. In order to upgrade the robots, restaurant owners will need to pay for additional capabilities which could end up being very costly.
OVERALL ALL THESE PARAGRAPHS ARE TOO SHORT TO BE SEPARATED IN SUCH LARGE SUBSECTIONS.
Current Use Cases of Robots in Restaurants
This local restaurant has recently gained a lot of popularity in British Columbia due to its use of a cat-shaped robot, Bella. Bella’s main responsibility is to transport take-out orders from the kitchen to the customers. Driftwood acquired Bella this summer through a three-year lease-to-own program with Edmonton supplier, GreenCo Robots, which imports them from Chinese manufacturers. The restaurant plans to add a second robot in the near future.
Dadawan is a small restaurant in the Netherlands that uses robots to serve drinks to their customers. The restaurant currently has three different humanoid-shaped robots named James, Amy, and Aker. Their job is to deliver drinks from the bar to the customers. This reduces the number of trips that the human staff needs to make while serving customers. Currently, the robots are offering drink deliveries only, however, the owner intends to use them for other services as well.
Roger Bar & Restaurant
This California-Mediterranean restaurant recently opened up with a pair of autonomous robots called Servi. The robots are capable of performing the job of a busser by collecting dirty dishes from the servers and bringing them to the kitchen for cleaning. This setup is working really well for the restaurant as it allows them to continue employing human staff while eliminating time consuming and repetitive tasks. The result has been less trips to the kitchen making the restaurant staff very pleased with the robots. Roger Bar & Restaurant also plans to deploy these robots for banquet events in the near future.
Spyce is the industry’s first robotic kitchen restaurant that specializes in healthy meals. The restaurant was founded by four MIT mechanical engineering students in an effort to create cheaper food without sacrificing quality. The company has managed to raise approximately $26 million in funding and was recently acquired by Sweetgreen in August 2021. When a customer first arrives at Spyce, they are prompted to a bank of kiosks where they can order and pay for their food. In the open kitchen, a group of robots then get to work preparing the food as the customers watch. Once the meal is assembled, one of the human staff members finishes the dish with dressings and or toppings before delivering it to the customer.
Founded by Deepak Sekar, Chowbotics is a company that develops salad vending machines. They were recently acquired by DoorDash in December of 2020. To date, the company has raised around $21 million dollars in funding including an $11 million round back in 2018. The company utilizes a vending machine robot called, Sally, that’s able to prepare and serve over 1,000 different salads. Customers choose the ingredients that they want and then watch Sally make the food in a matter of minutes. These small robots can be found in a variety of hospitals, universities, and other locations.
Creator, formerly known as Momentum Machines is a company founded in 2009 by Steven Frhen and Alex Vardakostas. The company has successfully raised more than $38 million in funding. It has recently gained a lot of popularity due to its burger-making robot that launched back in 2018. The robot is able to make burgers in under four minutes and contains 25 different seasonings and sauces. The price of the burgers is also very reasonable coming in at around $6 whereas other burger restaurants in the area cost anywhere from $12 to $18.
Miso Robotics is a company that develops and manufactures artificial intelligence-driven robots that assist chefs in making food at restaurants. The company was founded by Buck Jordan, David Zito, Robert Anderson, and Ryan Sinnet back in 2016 and has raised $44 million dollars in funding. They currently use Flippy, an AI-powered robotic arm. The robot monitors the cooking time and temperature of each burger and alerts the cooks when it’s time to add cheese or any other toppings.
Picnic Pizza formerly known as, Vivid Robotics, is a modular, easy-to-use, automated pizza assembly system designed for commercial kitchens. The company was founded back in 2016 by Clayton Wood, Colton Anderson, Garett Ochs, Jeremy Diamond, and Kyu Han and has raised $34.8 million dollars in funding. This system can produce hundreds of pizzas per hour with just one operator, freeing up the rest of the staff to focus on other tasks. In the next few years, Picnic plans to expand to other foods including sandwiches, salads, and bowls.
Makr Shakr is an advanced robotic bar system that allows people to create limitless cocktail recipes. It was first founded in 2014 by Carlo Ratti who is also the recipient of many awards – including D&AD and Core77. Once an order is placed, two mechanical arms are used to prepare and serve the drink. It is mainly used in cruise ships, hotels & casinos and can make up to 120 drinks per hour. So far Makr Shakr has served close to 3 million cocktails and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
Cafe X is an advanced coffee shop chain that offers drinks made with robotic technology. The company was founded back in 2015 by Henry Hu and Sebastian Gomez Puerto. Cafe X has been able to raise more than $14.5 million in funding since its start.
The company uses automated robotic arms to make each order. Once the coffee is made, an employee handles the remainder of the sale in an effort to provide a good customer experience.
Wrapping It Up
It is still unclear whether implementing robots in restaurants will have positive or negative consequences. However, one thing is certain, robots will soon become a common sight in restaurants as technology continues to improve.
Although there are a lot of benefits, there is also a few concerns with the main one being the lack of human element. People are emotional beings who crave human interaction, so completely removing workers may not be the best idea. In addition, completely removing human workers could lead to a massive increase in unemployment which could have drastic effects on society. Instead, restaurants should strive to strike the proper balance between automation and manual labor. A semi-automated restaurant with robots limited to mundane and repetitive tasks may be the best option for both restaurants and customers.
That is exactly what we hope to achieve at NextGen Kitchens. We are currently in the early stages of working towards a restaurant that will use both high-end robotics technology and talented human workers to provide you, the customer, the best experience possible. Our current goal is to set the industry standard and create the perfect harmony between man and robot. However, we are still a long way away from that goal. We first plan to enter the market through our propriety inventory management software as well as our white label restaurant app. These two projects are currently in the works but will be launching soon.
If you’re interested in staying up to date with the newest development here at NextGen Kitchens then make sure to follow our social media channels. We will be posting regular updates on there as well as useful tips on topics such as restaurant management, business development, statistics, market trends and more!