A new wave of automation lies in pizza. Not only will robots deliver your pizzas in the future, they will also prepare them. A startup company in Mountain View, California, has replaced human chefs with robotic ones, cutting its labor costs in half and allowing for a bigger budget to use higher-quality ingredients.
Delivery-only company Zume may employ fewer workers than the average pizza chain, but those employed get full benefits, education subsidies and shares in the business. "We're a co-bot situation" says Julia Collins, co-founder of the company. "There are humans and robots collaborating to make better food, to make more fulfilling jobs and to make a more stable working environment for the folks that are working with us".
Working together, robot and human employees currently produce 288 pizzas per hour and have an average delivery time of 22 minutes. First a human chef prepares the dough and sends it off to Pepe, the sauce-dispensing robot. He then passes the pizza to Martha, the robot that spreads the sauce. The toppings are done by a human worker, who has 22 seconds before Bruno – a former industrial robot – puts the pizza in the 426°C oven.
The company sold its first pizza on April 1, 2016, and recently delivered its 10.000th pizza. The next step will be to build oven-equipped delivery vans, each one featuring 56 mobile ovens, to bake the pizzas while they are delivered to customers.
Zume is not the only company that employed robots to work the kitchen. Robotic chefs are already slicing noodles, putting together sandwiches and making burgers worldwide. What differentiates Zume from other automation-driven companies is their outstanding business model that manages the job security issues in the robot age.