According to company CEO Yuji Shiraki, preliminary testing of the TechMagic fry robots is complete and is the company is moving into the development phase, where they will focus on productization and in-store installation. The fry-bot will manage fry-feeding, frying, bagging, storing, and arranging the french fries. The company is also working to reduce the size of the frybot so as to enable deployment into space-contrained spaces of existing Kentucky Fried Chicken locations.
Shiraki says they are aiming to introduce the robot in some Japanese locations by this fall.
Spoon readers may recall that TechMagic has already been working with restaurant operators to deploy its back-of-house food robots in restaurants in Japan. I had a chance to visit one, the P-Robo, last September when I was in Tokyo for Smart Kitchen Summit Japan. The robot is a multi-function robot that automates nearly the entire process of creating pasta. It preps the sauces and toppings, heats the noodles (which are pre-cooked and frozen, standard for noodle and pasta restaurants), combines it all in a spinner, and then delivers the meal down along a conveyor belt to the plating station. From there, the meal is plated and a human does the final prep for delivery to the customer. Afterward, the robot washes and cleansthe prep bowls. The entire process takes less than two minutes.
You can see the P-Robo in action below:
The Tokyo restaurant where P-Robo slings pasta is owned by the Pronto Corporation, a subsidiary of Japan food and beverage conglomerate Suntory. When I interviewed Shiraki last summer, he indicated that they were also working with a large well-known Japanese food brand (presumably KFC Japan) and noodle giant Nissin.
For those wondering if this move means we’ll see KFC deploy robots stateside, I wouldn’t hold your breath, mainly because KFC Japan is operated by Mitsubishi, whereas the U.S. fried chicken chain is operated by the holding company Yum Brands.