Even the food in Silicon Valley is getting high tech. No, we are not talking about meal-replacement shakes or coffee with butter in it — we’re talking good, old-fashioned pizza. Well, not exactly old-fashioned — the pies from Zume Pizza are made by robots. It is the latest in a new trend within the food industry — and a number of industries globally — to increasingly depend upon machines rather than human labor. And in this case, robots are not just taking your order or clearing your tables — they are the chef, too.
“We’re going to eliminate boring, repetitive, dangerous jobs, and we’re going to free up people to do things that are higher value,” co-founder Alex Garden, a former Microsoft manager and president of mobile game maker Zynga Studios, told the Associated Press. And while there might not be anything particularly dangerous about tossing pizza dough, one might call it repetitive.
So now, robots are taking care of spreading sauce on pizza dough when it comes down a conveyor belt and sliding the raw masterpieces into an 800-degree oven. While humans are still dealing with prepping the dough itself, and ensuring the right amount of cheese and toppings make it onto every pie, robots will soon be in charge of that aspect as well. They will even be tasked with removing pizzas from the oven, slicing them, and boxing them for delivery.
“We automate those repetitive tasks so that we can spend more money on higher quality ingredients,” said Julia Collins, Zume’s CEO and co-founder. “There will always be a model here at Zume where robots and humans work together to create delicious food.” So don’t worry, friends — robots won’t be kicking you out of the restaurant industry altogether, yet.
That said, robots seem to be taking the place of humans at an increasingly alarming rate. Wal-Mart recently cut 7,000 jobs due to automation and both hardware manufacturer and fast-food chain Wendy’s made similar changes to their workforce. The restaurant industry has not always had luck replacing people with machine parts — in fact, a Chinese restaurant chain had to shut down a couple locations due to poor service from its robotic waitstaff.
But who knows — maybe machines will have better luck with Italian cuisine.
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