Robots are coming to cook your food, and thanks to COVID, they will be here sooner than you think.
The latest entry in the world of food robotics is Leipzig, Germany-based DaVinci Kitchen. For the past two years the company has been developing an automated robot pasta kiosk, which it hopes to release later this year.
The five sq. meter (~53 sq. ft.) DaVinci kiosk features a fresh pasta extruder, 10 ingredient dispensers, boiling and cooking stations and an articulating arm for mixing. The machine can operate 24 hours a day and can make two dishes in three minutes.
I spoke with Vick Jorge Manuel, CEO and Founder of DaVinci Kitchen, by phone this week. Manuel said that the company currently has one robot up and open for specific tastings, and is scheduled to have its first public installation in December of this year (pandemic permitting, of course).
Manuel said that there are a number of paths forward for the company. Those includeowning and operating its own machines or selling them outright. A DaVinci Kitchen costs €150,000 Euros (~$177,000 USD) for a basic system (for comparison, Cafe X is selling its robot barista for $200,000).
There are actually quite a few automated robot restaurant kiosks coming to market as we enter the golden age of automated vending services. A direct competitor to DaVinci in France is the Cala robot, which makes vegetarian pasta dishes. Robots are also making pizzas for both PAZZI (also in France) and Piestro, which just successfully completed its equity crowdfunding campaign.
Manuel is quick to point out that the DaVinci system isn’t just about pasta, nor is it a vending machine. “Davinci can do a lot of different styles and kinds of food,” Manual said, “We offer this system for customers that you can swap sections out. All we need to do is swap out one section and then add a fryer or whatever.”
While right in the middle of a global pandemic may not be the most fortuitous time to launch a company, the current state of the world may actually work in DaVinci Kitchen’s favor. Manuel said his company has seen a lot of inbound interest because of the coronavirus as restaurant operators are reluctant to cram a number of employees right next to each other into a small kitchen space.
Other COVID-related benefits of the DaVinci system will be the contactless ordering and customization via the accompanying mobile app, as well as full transparency into the (human-less) preparation of each meal. Those are all things cautious eaters will crave when ordering meals.
DaVinci currently has 12 people in the company and has raised €800,000 Euros in venture capital.