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Food robots might sound futuristic, but believe it or not, they’re already showing up in restaurants across the world. Offering both front- and back-of-house services, food robots work in a variety of roles, from cooking and cleaning up to bartending and bussing tables. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular food robots on the market today, and how restaurants can get their very own robot.
- Flippy: Meet Flippy, a robot that works at Caliburger in Pasadena, California. Flippy is capable of (impressively) frying 80 baskets of food per hour and serving 300 burgers a day. And Flippy can do more than just cook – it can even monitor food and clean up. Flippy helps the burger joint minimize headcount costs, as many short-order cooks were leaving the kitchen due to high temperatures (it’s worth noting that not one Caliburger employee has lost their job due to Flippy; in fact, Flippy requires humans to operate).
- Vincenzo: Vincenzo is a pizza-making robot at Zume Pizza in Mountain View, California. Capable of creating 370 pizzas an hour, Vincenzo can press dough, dispense and spread sauce, and lift pizzas in and out of the oven, reducing delivery times to 5-20 minutes. Interestingly, there is no storefront for Zume Pizza; all pizzas are delivered via mobile kitchen food trucks.
- Café X Barista Bot: Café X, a San Francisco coffeeshop, utilizes a one-armed assembly line-style robot that can create two drinks in under a minute. The café’s robot helps ensure complicated orders come out correctly, and apparently the drinks even taste good, too; according to Wired, “This robot barista makes a dang good latte.”
- Cyberdog Bartender Bot: When you step inside Prague’s Cyberdog, a two-level futuristic wine bar, you’ll soon realize it’s home to a robotic bartender that serves up drinks ordered via a smartphone app. The red robotic arm can pour up to four drinks simultaneously before they are placed on a tray and delivered via a mechanical system housed in the ceiling. Humorously, the robot can put on a show, too; if business is slow and the robot doesn’t have any orders to make, it gets “bored” and performs dances.
- Penny: Created by Bear Robotics, Penny is a robot created to help complete tedious restaurant tasks. Penny serves food to diners tables in a fun and futuristic way, and can even bus the tables. Bear Robotics CEO Jon Ha said that waitstaff appreciate not having to lift heavy trays, and have experience higher tips because they now have more time and energy to dedicate to customer service.
- Delivery Robots: In addition to serving customers in restaurants, fleets of delivery robots are hitting the streets to also deliver food (and other items) to consumers’ homes and offices. In 2018, the delivery robot market was worth $11.9 billion, and it’s predicted to be worth a whopping $34 billion by 2024. It makes sense, when you realize that more than 60% of a merchant’s customers live within three miles of one of their stores!
How Do Restaurants Get Their Hands on Food Robots?
Not surprisingly, robots can come with a hefty price tag. However, renting one (versus buying one) makes them surprisingly affordable. According to one robotics company, a robot can be leased, and that lease is reported to offer immediate return. The estimated price range for a lease is $15K-$50K (USD) per year, depending on the complexity of the duties wished to be performed. It still might feel futuristic, but quick-service restaurants where customers order and pay on kiosks, and eat food that is cooked and delivered by robots, is entirely possible.
Even if you’re unsure about employing a robot just yet, Star Micronics can help you automate other restaurant processes with self-service kiosks. Download our Kiosk Printing Solutions brochure to learn more about the durability, versatility, and industry-specific features Star offers.
Heidi Orpilla is the Digital Content Specialist at Star Micronics where she creates and manages content for Star’s blog, social media, website, products, and more. Heidi has a passion for writing and has worked in the B2B marketing space for over five years. Prior to working at Star, Heidi worked at a large reseller for six years.