In addition to the coffee, smoothies, cheeseburgers, chicken tenders and pizza robots are making, you can now add pasta dishes to that list. Paris-based Cala has developed a pasta cooking robot, and recently raised €1 million (~$1.1M USD) in angel funding to help bring it to market early next year.
Cala’s pastabot will be the center of a self-contained mini-restaurant that measures 5 square meters (~53 square feet) and can make up to 800 dishes an hour. As you can see from the video below, the Cala bot uses Cartesian approach, rather than an articulating arm. The restaurant will be fully autonomous. Users order via mobile app, meals cost €6 with a drink (~$6.6 USD), and the robot prepares and plates all of the food as well as doing the cleaning.
“We want everything to be sustainable,” Cala CEO Ylan Richard told me in a phone interview this week. And that sustainability runs throughout the company and its robot. First, Richard believes that the only way to sustain a business of bringing healthy food to people quickly while making enough margin is through robotics.
Second, right now Cala bot only serves vegetarian dishes. In addition to being better for the planet, avoiding meat also cuts down on costs and complications associated with storing and cooking all the ingredients inside the machine. Richard says they use “a lot of organic things,” but says his bigger priority is to locally source all of their ingredients.
Cala ran a live test restaurant in Paris for four months and Richard said that from the test the company learned that it’s important for the robot to fade into the background once the meal is served. “If you don’t come just for the meal that means there is something wrong with the way we do things,” Richard said. This mission for the robot to merely be the means and not the star of a restaurant is pretty much the exact same thing that Creator CEO Alex Vardakostas told us at our Articulate Food Robot conference earlier this year.
What’s kind of funny is that France, famous for its hallowed culinary tradition, is now home to not one, but two different robot restaurant companies. Earlier this year PAZZI (formerly EKIM) raised €10 million for its autonomous robot pizza restaurants.
I asked Richard about any dichotomies around French companies building what is quite literally lifeless food preparation. He told me that sure, France is famous for its high-end cooking, but the French are also some of McDonald’s biggest customers. “Sometimes we just want to eat something quickly,” he said.
Cala will use its recent funding to bring its robo-restaurant back to the public at the beginning of next year. The company plans to own and operate its next location, which will be outside a university in Paris. Richard said that as the company grows, it will look at franchising, rather than licensing the technology out to a larger brand, and that eventually Cala will make more types of food beyond just vegetarian dishes and pasta.