Robots run new eateries

While some are fearful that robots will replace workers in the near future, AI is poised to help society more than hurt it. It’s becoming increasingly consumer-facing in the service industry in particular, as more robots are playing a role in the restaurant space.


Even though young consumers love coffee shop culture and conversing with their favorite baristas, the creators of Café X, which recently opened in San Francisco and Hong Kong, believe the future of service rests with robots. Customers place orders via smartphones or iPads, and WMF espresso machines make their drink within a minute. When ready, they receive a text with a code to enter at the robot’s kiosk, and its arm then grabs their cup from a warming station and places it nearby. There’s just one element of human interaction: an on-site specialist explains how the café works to guests and tests products throughout the day.


Health-focused fast food eatery Eatsa, which was recently named one of the most influential brands in the restaurant industry, serves freshly-made quinoa bowls without any interaction between customers and workers. Customers order food at iPod kiosks and wait for it to emerge from behind a wall of glass cubbies. Staff are hidden behind the wall while preparing meals in the kitchen, and when ready, they place it in cubbies that light up with customers’ names. Eatsa’s computer system remembers customers’ orders so that when they return, the screen displays their previous purchases and recommends new bowls based on their preferences.


Startup Zume Pizza in Mountain View, California only requires four staff members in the kitchen at a time and is working to automate the entire process. People are only needed to develop recipes and prepare fresh ingredients. Robots handle the rest, from squeezing sauce onto pizza dough and spreading it in circles, to loading the pies onto delivery trucks that contain ovens to cook the pie. By saving on labor, Zume is able to spend on ingredients from organic farms and give more benefits to the workers it employs for delivery and engineering.