These days, all sorts of industries use automation. That's work done by robots.
Sometimes, this is because it's too dangerous or challenging for humans to do the work. Other times, it's because the work is very time-consuming and repetitive. But whether it is in factories or farms, with rescue teams or miners, robots are everywhere.
But what about in restaurants? Would you eat a meal made by a robot? As in a pizza made entirely by machines?
Pazzi Robotics in France certainly hopes so. This company opened its first restaurant in Paris in July of 2021. Over a year later, it appears to be the world's only fully automated pizza joint. And business is good.
How does it work?
Basically, customers walk in and use a tablet to place an order (they can also order using a mobile phone app). They can choose from a selection of sauces and toppings. Then once the order is placed, the computer tells them how long the pizza will take to make and the process begins.
One of the really appealing things about this robot pizza joint is that customers can watch the entire process happen. They see the lump of pizza dough emerge, then watch it get pressed flat. They see their sauce spread across the dough, and then all of their toppings get laid out evenly.
Then the pizza moves to a super hot oven for about three minutes. As it bakes, the robot prepares a box to hold the pizza. Finally, the finished 'za is removed from the oven, placed in the box and cut, and then taken along a conveyor belt to the designated numbered space for that particular order. Who's hungry??
So are restaurants like this the wave of future?
It took nine years of research before the team behind Pazzi were able to open their groundbreaking restaurant. Elsewhere, there have been a few examples of other types of automated restaurants. So it is clearly possible.
But the bottom line is that cooking food requires a lot of skill. And most dishes are more complex to prepare than a pizza, which is relatively simple once you have all of the ingredients.
Still, there's no denying that this is a remarkable feat of engineering and programming. Delicious, too!
Watch the restaurant at work and listen to its creators explain their project in the video below.