Sally, a salad-making robot, mixes up to 8 fresh ingredients from vegetables to salmon into a compostable bowl in just 90 seconds. [credit: Chowbotics]
From cocktail-making to burger-flipping, many food and beverage businesses are beginning to discover the benefits of using robots to improve their productivity. The automation revolution has begun.
As technology advances and AI becomes more accessible, it is no wonder that robots for the food and beverage industry are becoming more commonplace.
Restaurants and hotels can benefit from these robots, which are automatic, intelligent and contactless. They can automate the food or beverage-making process, save money and human resources, enrich menus, make fewer mistakes, reduce food waste, and work 24/7 without a raise. Aside from being pretty damn cool and bringing innovation into businesses, customer-facing robots can help reduce human contact, a significant benefit at COVID-19.
Check out 10 of the latest innovations and robots for the F&B industry that will help you automate your business and take it to the next level.
1. Sally by Chowbotics — salad-making robot
Recently acquired by delivery startup DoorDash, Sally is a salad-making robot, mixing up to 8 fresh ingredients from vegetables to salmon into a compostable bowl in just 90 seconds!
Along with providing a quick and fun experience for customers, Sally also helps fast-food chains expand their menu and add salads and healthier options without hiring additional staff or changing anything in their kitchen.
2. Cecilia.ai — interactive robot bartender
|Cecilia.ai, The Robotic Bartender [credit: Cecilia.ai]|
Imagine if you could upgrade your drinks menu with premium cocktails mixed automatically by a friendly and entertaining bartender? Imagine no more. Cecilia.ai is a smart, interactive bartender that can be placed almost anywhere, serve mixed drinks in less than 30 seconds, and give customers guidance about the menu using AI and speech recognition.
This robotic bartending (and super-cool) unit has a small footprint, and could be easily installed and used as the main or an extra bartender in hotels, casinos and cruise ships.
3. Picnic — automatic pizza maker
Everybody loves pizza. That’s a fact like saying that the sun sets down on the west, that Jeff Bezos is rich or that thePicnic Pizza System will make pizza making a whole lot easier.
The entire process can be automated in this modular and customizable system, starting with spreading the sauce, topping it with cheese, then adding pepperoni and three more ingredients and baking the pizza.
Picnic can produce hundreds of pizzas per hour with just one operator, allowing the rest of the staff to be occupied with the rest of the food — not that you need any when pizza is on the menu.
The startup recently raised $16.3 million and has plans to install its robot in schools, stadiums and hospitals.
4. The Mini Bakery — automated loaf maker
The Mini Bakery, built and designed by Wilkinson Baking Company, is a fully automated system for baking bread. It does all the mixing, shaping, proofing and baking, allowing bread to be sold hot and fresh directly to customers just like a vending machine. Mini Bakery can make 10 loaves per hour, saving ingredients and transportation costs and donating water to Africa for every loaf sold. Even though the system was built for supermarkets, we don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be used in restaurants or hotel kitchens.
|The Picnic Pizza System [credit: Picnic]|
5. Miso Robotics — robotic kitchen for fast food chains
The company behind Flippy, one of the most famous robotic kitchen assistants in the industry, that can flip burgers and make fries, leaving the human employees to handle less risky and greasy tasks.
The system includes the Miso Analytics platform, which provides deep insights and improves food quality with cooking precisely as defined. Among the company’s clients are CaliBurger and White Castle, where it flips over 10K burgers and fries more than 12K baskets every month.
6. Kitchen Robotics — robotic dark kitchen
A Israeli competitor in the robotic kitchens section is called, unsurprisingly, Kitchen Robotics. The startup, founded in 2018, developed Beastro, a robot built for “Dark Kitchens.” The Dark Kitchen, also referred to as ghost kitchens and virtual kitchens, is a kitchen space devoted exclusively to delivery-only restaurants, a trend that has seen a meteoric rise since the global pandemic began in 2020.
Beastro can be customized to automatically prepare any type of dish, prepare about 45 dishes per hour, collect analytics, and fully integrate with Cuismo, the company’s online restaurant, and dark kitchen management software.
7. TrueBird — fully automated micro-cafe
While there are many (well, “many” is a relative term in this line of business) coffee-making robots and “old-school” vending machines, TrueBird is looking to bring something new to the table. The company partnered with craft breweries in NYC to give customers high-quality coffee at a reasonable price, automatically made by a 20-square-foot kiosk that serves the cup using three little magnets.
While TrueBird’s primary business model is to open dozens of automatically operated coffee shops in public spaces across the country, we can see no reason why you shouldn’t set up one in your hotel or airport lounge.
Source: Truebird Coffee on Vimeo.
8. Smile Robotics— plates-collecting robot
|Flippy by Miso Robotics [credit: Miso Robotics]|
Are you done eating? Time to clean up and pick up the plates. ACUR-C by Japanese company Smile Robotics is an automatic robot for serving and collecting dishes in restaurants, clinics, nursing homes, hotels, and more. The robot moves autonomously between tables, picking up trays with its robotic arm and bringing them back to the kitchen. We need this at home.
9. Solato— gelato maker
Love ice cream? Based in Israel and Canada, this startup has developed Solato, which looks like a Nespresso machine for ice cream, leading the gelato-making evolution with the “smoothest, creamiest gelato made fresh in a moment.”
This countertop device makes authentic artisan gelato, fruit sorbets, frozen yogurt and ice coffee using biodegradable capsules, which can also be used as the serving bowl. Solato is ideal for small cafes and restaurants looking to upgrade their menu with fresh ice cream without wasting precious space and money.
10. Milkit — milk on tap
Another innovation for the hospitality industry is Milkit, a patented milk-tap solution that saves time, energy and money.
With its unique milk bag, the Milkit device pours precise amounts of milk, saves up to 4 seconds per coffee cup and eliminates the need for storing milk bags. In fact, this solution that you didn’t even think was needed until you opened your own restaurant is already being used by several Israeli restaurants and hotels, as well as Starbucks in Germany. Milking it indeed!
The rise of automation and robots for the food and beverage industry may appear daunting to those who believe machines will ultimately replace humans. However, it seems likely that we will still be around for quite some time. Most of these systems are still quite expensive and are intended for filling in the gaps throughout the workforce (a major issue created by COVID-19), either to work alongside human employees so they can focus on more complex tasks, or just to serve as additional revenue sources or a tourist attraction.
We believe that we will see more and more robots and machines in restaurants and hotels, making delicious meals or mixing fantastic cocktails.
Innovating the food and beverage industry is essential and will be beneficial for both the business and the customers.