Costco Serves Up Robot-Prepared Pizza

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Costco features pizza on its list of food-court offerings, but these pies are now made with the help of automation.

A mechanical saucing process distributes tomato sauce over the base of the pizza  making it easier to create pies in bulk while spreading the sauce evenly and all the way to the crust. The pizza bases are also loaded into a flattening machine that presses it with 130 degrees of heat for seven seconds to ensure the thickness of each pie is the same. Order pepperoni? There will be exactly 60 pieces on each pie.

A slice of Costco’s three pizza offerings — cheese, pepperoni, or “combo” — costs $1.99, or $9.95 for an 18-inch pie.

“It’s a good slice: unwieldy, but cheesy, salty, and extremely filling,” according to Hollis Johnson of Business Insider.

Of course, the pies aren’t completely made through automation. Employees apply the cheese by hand.

Still, the process is a sign that automation is becoming more common in retail, which is a concern for approximately 16 million people  one in 10 American workers  employed in the industry. Last year, investment advisory firm Cornerstone Capital Group released a report that found between 6 million and 7.5 million retail jobs could become automated in the coming years.

With that in mind, Wendy’s announced last year that it was rolling out self-ordering kiosks at about 1,000 of its retail locations in an attempt to both lure younger customers and battle long lines at peak dining times.

McDonald’s has also started to install self-ordering kiosks, while smaller chains such as eatsa and CaliBurger are planning to automate the entire restaurant experience.

In 2016, the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s CEO at the time, Andy Puzder, told Business Insider, “With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs. You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”