Pizza, of all things, is often at the center of advancements in food technology. You’ll find pizza at the forefront of innovation in restaurant software, autonomous delivery, NFTs, and of course, robotics. There are already a number of automated pizza making machines on the market, and jumping into that fray is xRobotics, which announced this week that it recently finished a test of its prototype at Dodo Pizza in Oxford, Mississippi.
The xPizza One robot is a self-contained, pizza assembling kiosk, which means it doesn’t cook the pizzas or stretch the dough, but instead just automates the topping process. Empty crusts are placed on squat, puck-like robots that scoot under the assembly system. As the robot moves under the machine, canisters of toppings such as sauce, cheese, pepperoni and are dispensed on top of the pizza based on the instructions given. The crust is spun as toppings drop to ensure even distribution. Once the pizza is assembled as ordered, the puck reappears where a person places the pie in an oven to be heated.
According to press materials sent to The Spoon, the xPizza One used in the Oxford pilot was set up to hold 11 types of toppings, which covered 90 percent of Dodo’s menu. The robot’s average productivity hit 100 pizzas per hour and over the course of the month, successfully made 472 pizzas, saving 32 hours of manual work.
Automated pizza assembly is becoming its own bustling sub-sector in the pizza world. Other players in the space include Picnic, which uses a more modular, conveyor belt-style assembly system, and Middleby, which makes the PizzaBot 5000 pizza assembler.
The pitch with all of these robot pizza players is the same: cost savings. These robots are literal machines that crank out hundreds of pizzas without taking a break. By having a robot take over the topping process, human labor can be moved to other higher-value tasks such as customer service and order expediting. In addition to potential labor savings, robots can also keep ingredient costs down because they distribute a precise, consistent amount of toppings. It’s never too much and there is no loss due to sloppiness or human error.
With this initial test completed, xRobotics is looking ahead. The company says it has 800 pre-orders from different pizza chains and operators and is prepping facilities to start mass production of the xPizza One in late 2021 or early 2022.