During our Articulate food robotics summit last year, the common refrain from the restaurant operators in attendance was about the labor crunch. Restaurants couldn't find and retain enough workers, especially when potential hires would prefer to drive Ubers on their own schedule.
But that was then, and this is now. More specifically, this is now during a global pandemic and the conversation has shifted. With so many restaurants closed, and record amounts of unemployment, restaurants are less worried about hiring people, and more interested in how robots can create a more hygienic experience for diners (and workers).
This was one of the takeaways from our virtual fireside chat on The State of Restaurant Robotics yesterday. Linda Poulliot, CEO of Dischcraft Robotics, and Clatyon Wood, CEO of Picnic, were our guests, and they shared their insights about what their customers are looking for with automation right now.
At the moment, restaurants, cafeterias and other food service establishments are looking for safety and hygiene, something that robots can definitely help with in a few ways.
For example, Picnic’s pizza assembling robot can top 200 pizzas in an hour without human hands ever touching them. The stretched dough runs on a conveyor belt where robotic nodes dispense the proper amount of toppings consistently. Not only does this reduce the number of people touching food, it also helps in small kitchens where there isn’t enough room for workers to socially distance.
For its part, Dishcraft offers dishes as a service to cafeterias, restaurants and more. Dirty dishes are picked up from a restaurant and brought to a Discraft’s facility where the robot cleans and inspects them better and more environmentally friendly than a human can. The company recently branched out into offering reuseable containers so restaurants can cut down on all the packaging waste that comes with takeout and delivery.
These were just a couple of topics we touched on during our exclusive Spoon Plus event. Spoon Plus subscribers can check out the full video from the event below.
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