CareCredit - Women's Health April 2024

Automated Food Preparation Expands Amid Consumer Concerns

Automated Food Preparation Expands Amid Consumer Concerns

Autonomous restaurants are increasingly appearing throughout North America, with several new entrants into the space in the past couple of weeks alone, despite consumers’ hesitations.

Fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen opened its second automated location, featuring its “Infinite Kitchen” technology, Tuesday (Dec. 12) in Huntington Beach, according to area news outlet The Orange County Register.

The new addition to the company’s 220+ restaurants around the country aims to streamline the food preparation process and enhance customer experience, creating a maximum of 500 meals an hour and working 50% faster than human employees.

“Just to be clear, the machine isn’t cooking anything, it’s doing the line work,” Sweetgreen Co-founder and Chief Concept Officer Nicolas Jammet told the news outlet. “We still have folks doing all the chopping, cutting and stuff like that.”

In a similar vein, restaurant automation company Miso Robotics, in partnership with retail technology company Cali Group and biometric identity verification platform PopID, announced Dec. 5 that it will open an automated burger restaurant in Pasadena, California, this month.

The establishment is the world’s first fully automated restaurant, where both ordering and cooking processes are handled by artificial intelligence-powered robots. Miso Robotics’ cooking robots automate the grill and fry stations, while PopID facilitates automated payments using biometrics.

“To our knowledge, this is the world’s first operating restaurant where both ordering and every single cooking process are fully automated,” John Miller, CEO of PopID and board member of Miso Robotics, said in a statement. “The marriage of these various technologies to create the most autonomous restaurant in the world is the culmination of years of research, development and investment in a family of revolutionary companies.”

Meanwhile, Cibotica, a Canadian food robot startup, has unveiled its first fully operational food robot, Remy, in Vancouver’s Food Republic digital food hall, according to The Spoon, with the ability to assemble up to 300 salads per hour.

According to the PYMNTS Intelligence exclusive report “Connected Dining: The Robot Will Take Your Order Now,” which drew from a survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. consumers, only 33% of men and just half that share of women said they would be interested in visiting a restaurant that uses robotics. Top among consumers’ concerns are the quality and accuracy of the food as well as the job displacement for human workers.

Yet while robo-restaurants may remain a novelty, automation is already catching on throughout the industry. Data cited in the PYMNTS report “Inflation Puts Technology on the Menu for Restaurants,” the June edition of the “B2B and Digital Payments Tracker®,” created in collaboration with American Express, showed that 76% of restaurants are already using automation in at least three areas of operations.

“At the end of the day in the food industry, it’s not about the technology itself,” Yegór Traiman, CEO of Remy Robotics, which recently launched its Better Days fast-fine virtual brand in the U.S., told PYMNTS in an interview posted in November. “It’s all about the food and customer preferences. And we can build whatever innovative, efficient and cool technology, but it needs to be proved by the demand and by the sale volume.”