Whether you’re six or sixty, boy or girl, and no matter your dietary preference, we all love pizza and have since we were kids. Though pizza has exponentially evolved since its creation, the basis of it has stayed the same: dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings.
It began with simple pies with little sauce and a few veggies being thrown into a brick oven in Italy. Then, it became something to nibble on in between quarters and dives into the ball-pit at arcades across America. And now, it’s all about fresh, hand-crafted ingredients that everyone craves; even vegans demand one just for them.
However, the future of pizza is on the horizon with the rise of restaurant automation. Although pizza is a fairly simple creation, for a robot it is the mount Everest of entrees because of its massive amount of prep work and precise baking that varies in internal temperatures.
In Mountain View, CA with an experienced silicon valley business man at the helm, an automated pizza company called Zume is looking to change the pizza world. Josh Goldberg began as an electrical engineer, then a software designer, and now makes pizza.
Semi-automated pizza at its finest
With 20 software engineers under his leadership, it is estimated that a robot-equipped kitchen such as this would generate pizzas ten times faster than a human-powered pizzeria. The only setback they face is that robots cannot properly prep the ingredients…yet.
However, this problem could be remedied if they can only teach a robotic chef to slice and dice the toppings correctly, monitor the right ratio of herbs to the sauce, and of course they would need cognitive thinking in case a problem arose such as overcooking.
For now, the machines do the easy jobs such as spreading the dough in a perfect circle in just the right thickness, spreading the sauce evenly, and sliding the pie into the oven. The robots further down the line know what to do based on continuous transmissions between each other accompanied by photographic proof.
Though Mr. Goldberg currently has fewer employees in the kitchen, he is not saving any money because of the higher pay bracket. These few employees not only make dough and spread toppings, but are there for maintenance in the event of bugs, breakdowns, and needed upgrades for the machines.
Will we accept E-Pizza?
If this had been utilized in the 80’s or 90’s (or even conceivable) it would have thrived and become a billion dollar idea. Unfortunately, in today’s society, we are all about “crafted,” health conscious food while convenience and high-tech products become a close second.
Goldberg knows this and promises high-quality ingredients even though the pies are being prepared by those without heartbeats. Pair this with their delivery trucks with built-in ovens and you have the recipe for high-quality and conveniently hot-delivered pizza.
So, thus far, Zume has the capability to have the speed and freshness of a Pizza Hut or Domino’s, but still lacks the unbeatable price of a sub-par pizza. Lets face it, the ultimate goal of any entrepreneur is to include every demographic and class of people to enjoy your product.
The final step to almost complete automation would be to have a sauce taster bot, food processor robots to chop ingredients, a sprinkling machine to top the pie, and finally a automaton car for delivery. Then, the only people needed would be a squad of geeks and someone to cook up the sausage then he could realize his dream of going nationwide. After that… it’s Pizza Time!