It’s pretty remarkable to think of how much food robots have evolved over the three years I’ve been covering them. At the start of that time period, we had Flippy the robotic arm that could grill up burgers, and even that required human help. Fast forward to 2021, and RoboEatz is showing off its fully autonomous robotic meal-preparation system that can put together 1,000 meals on its own before a human is needed to refill its ingredients.
RoboEatz Ark 03 is a 200 sq. ft. standalone kiosk featuring an articulating arm, 110 fresh ingredients (30 of which are liquids like soups and salad dressings), an induction cooker and a number of cubbies that hold orders for pickup. After an order is placed (via mobile app or tablet), the robot arm grabs ingredients, places them in the rotating induction cooker, and puts the finished meal container in a cubby. You can see it in action in this video:
RoboEatz creates both cold and hot food, can produce a meal every 30 seconds, cleans and sanitizes itself, and only needs a human for refilling any ingredients that run out. Food can also be customized to meet certain taste and dietary preferences.
You won’t be seeing RoboEatz-branded robo restaurants, as the company plans to license out its technology to third-party restaurants. As I’ve said before, this type of co-branding makes a lot of sense for food robot companies. Hungry consumers won’t know what a “RoboEatz” restaurant would serve, but they would know what to expect from a robot kiosk with “Olive Garden” branding (or whatever, I’m just naming a random.
There is more interest in food robots now, thanks to the global pandemic. A fully robotic kitchen/restaurant means a truly contactless meal creation and pickup experience.
But food robots have the potential to help with the operational costs of running a foodservice operation. There’s the aforementioned savings from not employing a human (a bigger, ethical and societal issues to be sure), but robots can also dispense ingredients with precision and consistency, reducing ingredient waste. Robots can also keep ingredients out of the open keeping them away from outside germs and preventing cross-contamination. Plus, they can run 24 hours a day without a break, eliminating any downtime.
All of the above is why we’re seeing so many fully autonomous robot restaurants coming to market right now. Karakuri, YPC and Highpper all have various versions of fully autonomous robot restaurant kiosks in the works.
All of those companies are also eyeing the same high-traffic locales when placing their robo-restaurants: hospitals, transportation hubs, schools, etc. RoboEatz says it will be opening its first location “soon” in Latvia (where the company is headquartered), with another location at an undisclosed airport opening as well as a prototype store in the U.S. later this year.