Dexai Robotics has raised a $5.5 million seed round for its robotic arm sous chef, the company announced yesterday. The round was led by Hyperplane Venture Capital with new investors Rho Capital, Harlem Capital, Contour Venture Partners, and NextView Ventures also participating.
Dubbed “Alfred,” Dexai’s robotic arm is meant to be a flexible food prep assistant that can work in various kitchen scenarios. The company says it can work with a restaurant’s existing set up, utensils and recipes to do things like assemble sandwiches, salads, and even scoop ice cream.
Alfred came about as a result of artificial intelligence for robotics research conducted in collaboration between MIT and Harvard. According to the press announcement, that research led to the software breakthrough that allowed Alfred to control “deformable materials” like ice cream, sushi-grade tuna, pico de gallo, etc.
Dexai was actually among the companies in our Smart Kitchen Summit Startup Showcase, back in 2018. You can see the company’s brief pitch here.
With some QSRs reporting worker turnover rates as high as 150 percent, food robots and automation are one solution to the labor shortage restaurants are facing. Robots can work around the clock without a break and can take over repetitive, sometimes dangerous work in the kitchen, allowing humans to focus more on customer service.
Dexai is among a cohort of startups applying robotics to the kitchen. Miso Robotics‘ Flippy can grill burgers and fry foods, and Picnic’s modular robots can assemble 300 pizzas in an hour.
Dexai says that it will use this round of funding to expand its engineering, sales and product teams with the goal of serving new and different types of cuisines and scaling up.