The rapid progress in computing power and technology is transforming the way all businesses work. Jobs that involve repetitive actions are most at risk of being “automated” and replaced.
Just recently, fast food chain Domino’s Pizza launched drone and driverless car deliveries. And with the advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, it’s not at all surprising that robots are now making pizzas.
The California-based startup Zume Pizza, a store-less pizza purveyor that uses robots to bake its pies, has secured US$48 million in a new funding round.
The pizzeria is using robots to help reduce labor costs, speed up production and improve food safety. Instead of chefs tossing dough and slopping sauce, the company has installed a human-robot hybrid workforce. Also, it has programmed robots to make pizzas which are then put into a van and baked en route to the customer’s house.
Zume Pizza has around 115 full-time employees. “They don’t need to stick their hands in a 600-degree oven or do the same task for six hours every day,” said Julia Collins, the company’s co-founder and co-CEO.
The company is also applying artificial intelligence and big data analytics to predict order volumes, making the food fresher and eliminating food waste.
A delivery-only store in the Bay Area, Zume Pizza sold its first pizza in April 2016. Before its latest funding round, it had raised over US$23 million from venture capitalists.
Another US-based startup, Chowbotics, recently raised US$6.3 million from several investors. It has devised a salad-making robot called Sally.
Sally assembles salads out of precut vegetables stored in refrigerated canisters.
Diners use a touch screen to place their orders; the machine then chops the vegetables and drops them into a bowl in less than a minute.
Deepak Sekar, the founder and chief executive of Chowbotics, insists that Sally won’t be a job killer. He said while the robot will replace human hands in salad production, it can be a source of new jobs such as workers to clean up the machine and engineers to repair it when it breaks down.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 10
Translation by Ben Ng
[Chinese version 中文版]
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