If you had the luxury of attending CES in Las Vegas this last week, you might've been served a pizza by a robot that utilizes AI to create the perfect pie.
A company called Picnic worked with the hospitality departments at the Las Vegas Convention Center to allow all CES attendees the chance to eat robot-made pizza.
The company is a Seattle-based technology company that focuses on food production solutions utilizing Robotics-as-a-Service solution. The hospitality company working the event, Centerplate, utilized the pizza-making robotic cells to fee attendees with each capable of making up to 300 12-inch pizzas, all with customized toppings, per hour.
Our team at CES was able to talk to the CEO of Picnic to learn a little bit more about how the machines work. Take a look at the video below for that discussion.
The company also released a press release on the collaboration between their robots and the food service provider.
“Picnic’s distinct culmination of food production customization and throughput, smart data and cloud analytics is quickly resonating with food service operators,” said Clayton Wood, CEO of Picnic. “Our continued relationship with Centerplate illustrates our ability to tailor our offerings to the specific needs of our partners and jointly transform the food experience for their consumers. This is one robot that won’t be a CES exhibitor only showing futuristic concepts; it is already in use in real-world kitchen settings and will only continue to grow its capabilities, as will be seen through Picnic’s delivery of mass customization food production and great-tasting pizza provided to CES attendees.”
How does the machine work?
The module reads the size and shape and placement of the stretched dough. It then moves down the line to apply toppings. As a customer approaches the machine, they select the toppings and customizations they want on their pizza. This is then fed into the AI of the machine that determines precisely how that pizza needs to be made.
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The system is small enough to fit in any commercial kitchen without any retrofitting. The base modules are only 2 feet wide, making them highly portable. This means the modules can fit on food trucks or be retrofit into current kitchens.
Part of the advantage of the robotic modules is that it provides a modular consistent robotic worker that can make food for thousands of people.
Will it steal jobs?
The food service industry currently has a global shortage of labor. There are 800K open food-service jobs today, and it's estimated that it will double over the next decade. This means the Picnic robotic pizza maker won't steal any jobs; rather, it will fill the open headcount that companies can't fill across the world.
Replacing a headcount with a robot also saves the company money through labor indefinitely, providing benefits down the line to companies who adopt the machine.
Another benefit is since the machine is a robot and not a human worker, companies can accurately track exactly how much ingredients have been used and how much gets used per pizza. A company looking to cut costs could program the robot to use slightly less cheese per pizza, compounding into more significant savings over time.