Automation: Boston Restaurant Uses Robot Woks to Create Inexpensive Lunches
May 09, 2018, 12:12 AM
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Leave it to broke but smart college students from MIT to invent a machine that will cook a healthy lunch for cheap.

Below, the cylinder-shaped robot wok spins slowly to keep the food from burning, then plunks the finished lunch into a bowl.

The young inventors have a similarly aged clientele in mind, where inexpensive food is the business model, and a healthy lunch costs only $8 as described in the video following.

Although human workers are still needed at the Spyce restaurant to chop and prepare the ingredients before cooking, the trend toward more automation in restaurants is clear, such as oven robots in pizza production. Plus, the use of kiosks for ordering and payment have become quite common.

In a CNBC interview in March 2017, Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed predicted robots would replace fast food workers by the mid-2020s.

So it makes no sense for Washington to continue admitting thousands of low-skilled immigrants as if there will be jobs for them in a few years — right?

Robotic woks are the chefs in this Boston restaurant, Engadget.com, May 4, 2018

The restaurant was founded by four MIT students who wanted to make healthy meals more affordable.

Four MIT students who once built a soccer ball-kicking robot got together with a Michelin-starred chef to build a restaurant that’s not quite what you’re used to. How? Well, it’s staffed by robots, obviously. Spyce, a fast casual restaurant that has just opened its doors in Boston, has a mecha-kitchen with seven autonomous woks preparing its healthy offerings. A customer simply has to choose one of the bowl-based meals in its menu through a touchscreen kiosk, and the sprouts, kale, beans, grains and other components of the meal will automatically drop into one of the drum-like machines to start cooking.

Spyce’s mecha-woks use magnetic induction to heat the food and automatically rinse themselves after preparing every order. As cool as they sound, though, they aren’t quite capable of doing actual food prep and making bowls look presentable. The restaurant still employs human workers at a commissary kitchen where ingredients are chopped and prepared; on site, there are two garnish employees to add the finishing touch. So, although robots could eventually take all our jobs, Spyce’s founders didn’t conjure up a machine that can put all restaurant employees out of work right now.

Its Yelp reviews are pretty good, if you’re wondering how’s the food itself. To note, Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud serves as Spyce’s culinary director. But if you’re not quite the kale and beans kind of person, seeing the restaurant’s whirring, spinning robotic woks in action might be worth the visit. Spyce runs an open kitchen, and the show is definitely part of the experience. “It’s fun to see what’s going on behind the scenes,” co-founder Brady Knight said, “We didn’t want to hide anything because we think what we made is pretty cool.”