In June of this year, we wrote about a robot-run restaurant opening up in the Guangdong province of China. The Qianxi Robot Catering Group, a subsidiary of Country Garden, opened a restaurant complex featuring different robots that cooked and carried food.
One thing we didn’t know at the time was that meals would be dropped from the ceiling. At least, that appears to be what happens inside the restaurant based on a video we came across.
I should insert a few caveats here about this story. There is still a lot we don’t know yet about the video below, but it looks legit and is pretty remarkable, so we wanted to share it.
Yesterday Anthony James, CEO of Innovation and Growth at Trinity Consulting, posted a video on Linkedin showing how food travels around the inside of a robot restaurant in Guangdong, China. We don’t know who shot the video, and the restaurant in the video goes unnamed, but from the bright pink decor and pink robots, it appears to be the same restaurant we wrote about back in June.
The main reason we wanted to post this is because of the rail system that delivers orders. According to a follow up comment from James, guests place an order with one of the bright pink server robots that wheel about on the floor. The cooking robot prepares the meal, which then gets plated and sent out on a modified tray via an overhead rail system. When the meal reaches the ordering table, a tethered tray drops from the ceiling to just above the table where the customer takes the plate of food off the tray. The tray and tether then retract back up to the ceiling to go make another delivery.
You can watch the whole process here:
Interest around food robots and automation has accelerated this past year, thanks to the pandemic. Robots don’t get sick, and they also reduce the amount of human-to-human interaction involved in getting a meal from the kitchen to the customer. But robots are also fast workhorses that can operate around the clock. Country Garden’s robot restaurant in Guangdong can serve up a meal in as little as 20 seconds.
The bigger question for establishments such as this, however, is how much of an investment to make in dining room technologies. Here in the U.S., foot traffic into major QSR dining rooms is half of what it was at the beginning of the year. Would that investment be better spent automating drive-thrus and other forms of food to go? Perhaps the Chinese market will rebound differently.
If you’re a Spoon reader in Guangdong, China, do us a solid and visit the restaurant. Then leave us a comment and tell us what it’s like.