USAPEEC ASEAN

With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), robots are transforming the food value chain, food service and retail sectors.

For quick-service restaurants (QSR), navigating operating margins, labor shortages and meeting changing consumer demands for rapid, contact-free access to affordable, fresh, healthy food on the go can be pretty daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. And that’s because food automation platforms powered by AI and advanced robotic technologies are changing the fast-food dynamic. Savvy business leaders are already investing in new robotic food automation platforms to give customers what they want.

Interestingly, robotic food stations are lining check-out areas in major malls, airport terminals, and hospitals. Robots in restaurants or automated restaurants are not only making the food industry safer and more efficient, they bring the future of highly personalized, healthy, fresh, and delicious food options to life. Today, robots can be found flipping burgers, dishing out hot wings, pouring the perfect cuppa, and serving meals in bowls!

Is this the future of the food industry?

In Singapore, SoftBank Robotics Group (SBRG) and Keenon Robotics are launching a robot called Keenbot. Armed with trays, it can serve up to four dishes at a time in restaurants. Obstacle avoidance and smart scheduling systems allow existing service crew to refocus on other aspects like customer service. Grab Singapore will introduce the service robots in its GrabKitchen in Hillview, a cloud kitchen that houses more than 20 food and beverage brands.

The Keenbot can serve up to four dishes at a time. (Photo: China Daily)

Bowl & Bowl, a cozy eatery located in Toa Payoh, serves fried rice cooked by robots. What’s great about this space is the open kitchen where you can watch the robotic frying pans at work. From scrambling eggs to delicately placing ingredients into the pan – it’s a visual treat. And you can be assured of consistent quality all the way. Aside from the rice dishes, Bowl & Bowl offers fried porridge, and hearty, piquant bowls of Pao Fan (rice soaked in broth brewed from pork, fish bones and prawn, typically served with seafood, fried egg floss and crispy rice).

At the Beast & Butterflies restaurant at the M Social hotel, robot breakfast chef, Ausca is programmed to whip up your egg breakfast of choice. Its companion, Aura, is a front-of-house robot that attends to guests’ requests, including delivering fresh towels and bottled water to the room.

Ausca can whip up your egg breakfast in no time! (Photo: Hospitality Net)

Gourmet coffee and cocktails

By the end of next year, you can expect to see Robot baristas at 30 train stations across the island city, as part of a collaboration between retail management company Stellar Lifestyle and F&B start-up, Crown Digital. Occupying less than 5 sqm of retail space, the robot barista or ELLA as it’s known, each come with a cashless and contactless interface that can serve up to 200 cups of coffee per hour. Commuters can also pre-order ahead of time via an app and collect their coffee upon arrival at the MRT station.

Ella, the AI-powered robotic barista will be installed at 30 train stations next year. (Photo: MarkTechPost)

Meanwhile, Ratio has opened its doors at Singapore’s Centerpoint mall where robots serve up cocktails and lattes. Fifty different coffees and cocktails made fresh by robotic arms known as Ratio-logists to be exact! The cyborgs can customize beverages, right down to the precise amount of mixer. The robots, programmed with AI, are baristas by day and bartenders by night. Expect brewed coffees and lattes in Pandan, banana, and coconut flavors, and cocktails like Tom Yum Martinis or Longan Red Date Gimlets. Or skip the queue and order through the Ratio phone app or at the kiosks.