If someone were to update The Graduate for modern audiences, it seems like instead of “plastics,” the one word for Benjamin Braddock would be (… are you listening?…) “robots.” Especially if young Braddock wanted to get into the food business.
According to EU-Startups, French startup EKIM just raised €2.2 million (~$2.6M USD) to fund the creation of PAZZI, a small, autonomous pizza-making robot restaurant. This was the first institutional funding for the company, and Daphni and Partech were the investors.
Details are slim as the EKIM site is in French, but EU-Startups reports that the PAZZI concept fits in a 45 sq. meter area and has gone through a four year development process. In addition to pizza, PAZZI will offer “drinks, desserts and salads” (and, since this is France, one would presume wine). A pilot project will start in France at the end of this year, and then will be franchised out in 2019.
Even beyond pizza, robots are being recruited throughout the restaurant world. Spyce Kitchen just opened up their robot restaurant in Boston. Bear Robotics’ food-shuttling “Penny” showed off its stuff at the National Restaurant Association show this week. Meanwhile, Cafe X and Briggo robots are slinging coffee, while Blendid whips up smoothies.
But all of those operations are going on in the U.S. It’s interesting to think about how European audiences will react to automation. Here in America, we’re used to mass-produced, mass-marketed food. But European countries like France are steeped in proud culinary traditions full of artisan, handmade products. Will European audiences take to robot-produced food?
Because France isn’t the only one on a quest to automate pizza. Down in Italy, researchers strapped a biokinetic suit onto famed pizza maker Enzo Coccia to teach a robot how to make pizza like a master.
Perhaps I’m painting with too broad a brush. People are people, as the song goes. If the food is good and convenient, why not have it prepped by a machine? There does indeed seem to be a great future in robots, to complete this Graduate reference. Hopefully some pizza (or robot) fans in Europe can set me straight in person at our Smart Kitchen Summit in Dublin, Ireland next month.