Food Delivery and Service Robots: Changing Face of Restaurants Industry

The development of robotics in the post pandemic scenario has changed the overall scenario for the industries, especially the restaurants industry. The prominence of food delivery and service robots has increased in the overall restaurant industry. This is owed to the uncertainties faced by the restaurants at the global level. In order to deal with these uncertainties, the top players had to work on bringing in technological advancements to survive and recover from the losses caused by the pandemic. 

ESOMAR-certified market intelligence and research firm, Future Market Insights, states that technological advancements in robotics has led the food manufacturers to reconsider their orthodox human-based manufacturing operations and switch to robotics. It is an outstanding decision to use such robotic contactless services and avoid human-to-human interaction in the restaurant industry. In this blog, we will discuss the changing face of the restaurant industry as a result of the introduction of food delivery and service robots. 

Rise of Service Robots- A New Era of Human-Like Services

As per the International Organization for Standardization, a service robot performs functional tasks for humans or equipment, excluding industrial automation applications. The rise of service robots is the result of different levels of mechanical and artificial intelligence. 

The service robots operate at two levels of intelligence- from delivering food to taking care of consumer’s queries. This has given rise to a whole new era of human-like interactive and intelligent services with emotional and social capabilities. Robots are able to improve the guest experience by analysing the online reviews from hotels and restaurants. 

There are several applications in food processing units which are already using robots such as meat processing, fruit, and vegetable handling, and pick and place for processed food. Top key players in the restaurant and service industry are working towards the development of robotic services to improve and cater to current requirements. For instance, LG Electronics tested robots that can replace workers in the service industry. The company's robots are designed to perform tasks, such as delivering food and drinks to customers at hotels and airport lounges, handling check-in and check-out services at hotels, and even carrying luggage.

In addition, in January 2021, Hyundai Robotics launched what it describes as a “food and beverage service robot” for the restaurant and catering sector. The new robot can be found in the “Genie Room” of the newly opened shabu-shabu (a popular Japanese dish) restaurant. With the introduction of KT’s customized AI service, when a customer places a voice order through the Giga Genie terminal, the robot delivers food, refills, plates, water, and other items to the table. The robot will increase the restaurant’s efficiency by recognizing a customer’s request from the kitchen and respond quickly and reduce the employees’ fatigue. 

Contactless Food Delivery- Robots Taking Over the Streets

The contactless food delivery options have been taking rounds on the internet, especially after the pandemic hit the world. Companies are pushing their limits to launch amazing contact less delivery options by letting robots take over the streets. 

Uber technologies came out with a major innovation in March 2022. The project involved the launch of pilot food delivery services with autonomous vehicles in two California cities. Uber announced its plans to add electric vehicle charging stations into its global driver app. The announcements are part of Uber's annual product event where the ride-hail and food delivery company showcases the latest updates to its app.

The autonomous car pilot is in collaboration with Motional, the self-driving joint venture of Hyundai Motor Co and Aptiv PLC, and was initially announced in December 2021. As per the plan, the vehicles in both services are actively monitored by human operators. 

Launch of Flippy 2- A Robot Flipping Hamburger Patties at Miso Robotics

In November 2021, California based Miso Robotics, the startup transforming the foodservice industry with intelligent automation, unveiled the newest model of Flippy, its flagship product, aptly named Flippy 2. 

Based on key learnings and feedback from innovation partner White Castle, who deployed the original Flippy, the company announced its Flippy 2 takes over the work for an entire fry station and performs more than twice as many food preparation tasks compared to the previous version including basket filling, emptying and returning. The robotic kitchen system acts as a fry cook, identifying patties on a grill, tracking them as they cook, flipping them, and even placing them on a bun.

Flippy 2 features the brand new AutoBin™ system for lower volume and specialty foods like onion rings or chicken tenders, providing restaurants an even more capable and complete frying solution. Every bin holds a full fry basket customized according to the kitchen’s specific needs.

Robotic Pizza at Picnic

Robotic pizzas have been surprisingly trending over the last few years. After the success of robotic pizza at Zume, Picnic announced a $16.3 million raise back in May 2021. Another $4.2 million back in July helped push the company north of $38 million. Post that, the startup announced that it’s finally ready to launch its first device, after various pilots across various industries, including restaurants, hospitality, entertainment and theme parks. 

The Picnic Pizza System is a pizza-assembly machine which enables a single employee to churn out up to 100 12-inch customized pizzas per hour. Fresh ingredients are dispensed onto dough that is made by hand and the recipe later follows.

What’s Next for Robots in Restaurants?

The food processing industry has been a little slow in incorporating industrial robots as the industry mostly consists of small and medium enterprises. The use of robotics in the restaurants is turning out quite lucrative upon realization of the potential of robotics in the industry. The use of robotics makes the overall business more efficient as utilizing technology can help a business grow. 

The proliferation of robots further helps in handling repetitive tasks in the kitchen, enabling humans to focus on other pursuits, such as front-of-house interactions. From bars to kitchens to food delivery, robots are changing the overall face of the global restaurant industry.