Skip to main content

Processed pies: Silicon Valley’s Zume Pizza ready to offer you dinner made by a robot

Zume Pizza robots are getting arms to help retrieve and box pies

Even the food in Silicon Valley is getting high tech. No, we’re 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. To help it reach new heights, the company is upgrading its existing robots by adding arms into the mix.

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. In this case, robots are not just taking your order or clearing your tables — they are the chef, too.

In order to help these machine chefs better do their jobs, Zume is giving them ABB robotic arms, which are capable of pulling pizzas from 800-degree ovens, and placing them on shelves. So efficient are these appendages that they can fill a whole rack in just 4.5 minutes.

“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 in 2016. Seeing that a stat from Cintas claims that restaurants jobs are responsible for up to 33 percent of occupational burns, Zume really could be saving humans several trips to the hospital.

Already, Zume’s robots are taking care of spreading sauce on pizza dough when it comes down a conveyor belt and sliding the raw masterpieces into a hot oven. While humans are still dealing with prepping the dough 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.

“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 — 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 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.

Updated on June 21: Zume adds a robotic arm to help with its automated pizza-making process. 

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
Domino’s has built a self-driving pizza delivery robot
dominos pizza delivery robot dru

With self-driving technology edging its way into the mainstream, it's not just taxi drivers, truckers, and hotel workers that face an uncertain future. Domino's new autonomous robot-vehicle means pizza delivery guys and gals could also soon be a thing of the past.

Unveiled on Thursday in Brisbane, Australia, the "Domino's Robotic Unit," or DRU for short, has been in development for the last eight months. The pizza company teamed up with Aussie startup Marathon Robotics to build the delivery droid, which, besides transporting pizza and drinks (in separate hot and cold compartments), can also accept payments and chat with customers.

Read more
DinnerCall lets you order pre-made meals from your grocery store
dinner call app family dinnercall

Healthier food options are more in demand than ever, and as people spend more hours at work, many are are too tired to cook a nutritional meal after a long day. This leads to the unhealthy consumption of fast food for dinner. DinnerCall is a service that takes away the stress of wondering what's for dinner by giving you the ability to order pre-made meals from your local grocery store. 

With DinnerCall, families have the option of choosing ready-to-eat meals, which consist of an entree, side, vegetable side, baked bread, and dessert, or preparing their own meals with pre-measured ingredients. After choosing your meal of choice, pay through the app and indicate a specific pick-up time. When arriving at the grocery store, simply give them a call and the food will be delivered to your car.

Read more
Why AI will never rule the world
image depicting AI, with neurons branching out from humanoid head

Call it the Skynet hypothesis, Artificial General Intelligence, or the advent of the Singularity -- for years, AI experts and non-experts alike have fretted (and, for a small group, celebrated) the idea that artificial intelligence may one day become smarter than humans.

According to the theory, advances in AI -- specifically of the machine learning type that's able to take on new information and rewrite its code accordingly -- will eventually catch up with the wetware of the biological brain. In this interpretation of events, every AI advance from Jeopardy-winning IBM machines to the massive AI language model GPT-3 is taking humanity one step closer to an existential threat. We're literally building our soon-to-be-sentient successors.

Read more