Four years ago in Mountain View, California, a team of robots was cranking out pizzas on a production line that was almost fully automated. The first robot pressed a ball of dough into a flat circle, a second squirted tomato sauce onto it, and a third spread the sauce over the whole crust. Then a human stepped in to add the toppings, but a fourth robot put the pizzas in the oven and a fifth sliced them up when they were done. That operation, called Zume Pizza, has since discontinued its pizza-making operations and shifted its focus to systems for food packaging, production, and delivery. But the idea of robots taking over repetitive food preparation work has only gained traction, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ekim is a French food tech startup. Recently, it raised €2.2 million ($2.5 million) in venture capital to disrupt the pizza business with robots. Pizza-making robots are not a new concept. Frozen pizza production is typically automated in factories. But Ekim is after a different slice (sorry) of the pizza market: It wants to replace pizzerias, and the people who work in them, with 24-hour, completely automated, fresh pizza kiosks.
At midnight on Friday, pop singer Taylor Swift updated her official website with a giant countdown clock, which will reach zero at 12:00 a.m. The internet has been ablaze with rumors ever since the countdown clock appeared, most of which revolve around the idea that Swift might be releasing new music on the 26th. But students of history and students of the Assassin's Creed video game series recognize that the situation is far grimmer than even the lead-up to the release of Reputation. April 26 is the anniversary of the Pazzi's attack on the Medici outside the Duomo in Florence, making it an apt day for betrayals and treason. And this isn't the first time a monomaniacal multi-millionaire with a love of gadgets, a passion for revenge, and a stockpile of diamonds has started a ticking clock.
Traditional pizza makers may have just met their match. A Seattle firm has unveiled an assembly-line-style food production robotic platform that is capable of making 300 pizzas an hour. An empty crust is loaded onto the conveyor belt and using computer vision, configurable equipment and deep learning, the robot adds desired toppings and bakes the pie to perfection. The robotic pizza maker was developed by Picnic, which designs food production technology and Robotics-as-a-Service solutions. 'We are defining the new standard for food preparation and offer the only pizza automation platform supporting mass customization,' said Picnic CEO Clayton Wood.