- By Dustin Seetoo
- October 06, 2022
Pandemic-related constraints have hindered the restaurant industry, creating a limited workforce and high demand for service from customers. Robotics, powered by AI and rugged-edge computing, is ready to step in and offer an immediate financial impact on a restaurant’s bottom line.
The commercial foodservice industry is revolutionizing itself through intelligent automation solutions that solve some of the most significant gaps in back-of-house kitchen operations. Pandemic-related constraints have hindered the restaurant industry, creating a limited workforce and high demand for service from customers. Robotics, powered by AI and rugged-edge computing, is ready to step in and offer an immediate financial impact on a restaurant’s bottom line. Aided by machine learning, computer vision, and data analytics, new robotic systems will soon become commonplace in the kitchen, driving productivity while reducing cost and making room for the robotic fry cook to come to life.
The new normal
The restaurant space has been hit hard in the last few years and is just starting its slow recovery from the pandemic’s impact on the industry. As the world moves into the post-pandemic era, there is hope that the industry could return to business as usual. But a new normal has since taken shape, leaving food preparation workers less motivated to resume their posts for various reasons. Robotic systems in the kitchen are in a prime position to help these institutions get back to work–and more efficiently.
Software algorithms, explicitly designed for intelligent food service, can enable hardware to streamline repetitive kitchen tasks. The computing systems powering this technology require a CPU, sufficient USP ports, and real-time edge processing with the help of a powerful GPU. As these solutions are developed for immediate use, with additional RMA support offered to restauranteurs, the production of these systems will scale rapidly through the US.
The rugged edge along the kitchen counter
Developers of these types of robotics need to incorporate rugged edge computing, allowing these automated solutions to perform in hazardous environments while executing the core capabilities outlined by the software.
Real-time data collected by sensors is mission critical to these robotics’ performance. Uniformity works best when designing the hardware, minimizing the need for client customization, and accelerating time to market. The system electrical panels embedded in the hardware are a vital component of the automation process and should be designed for manufacturing and service that is easy to deploy. This helps guarantee that the modules within the robot can successfully handle sensor data coming from the kitchen.
These robotic systems can be mass manufactured and deployed quickly and efficiently, as manufacturers ensure consistent settings across all products, scale their services, and accelerate time to market. With assets like trained personnel and industrial environments capable of managing assembly of the rugged edge hardware, it becomes possible for manufacturers to produce hundreds of units at a time.
Mass production of a reliable system at scale requires recognizing the clear differentiation between a general-purpose embedded computer and a system built to handle AI algorithms and real-time data workloads. Whether on a fishing boat in the middle of the Atlantic or in the kitchen of a local restaurant, rugged edge computing is essential to balancing the performance, reliability, footprint, and longevity demands of these fast-evolving robotic systems.
Let’s get cooking
By combining smart AI algorithms with automated, industrial hardware, the modern restaurant kitchen is evolving in a manner that until recently was considered possible only in science-fiction. Autonomous commercial food prep has the potential to be less reliant on manual labor while improving overall working conditions for cook staff. Mundane, repetitive restaurant tasks performed by robots enhance food quality, safety, and throughput, and can also result in significant cost savings by minimizing human error and creating a streamlined workforce focused on some form of management instead of day-to-day tasks. Autonomous restaurants additionally allow for better, smarter business decisions by providing more–and more valuable–operational data, translating into broad savings over the long term in an overly competitive industry on the cusp of significant change.
The pandemic’s world-changing circumstances have presented new opportunity, calling for the tech and food industries to align. Restauranteurs and fast food chains that embrace robotics in the kitchen are “in the right place at the right time,” poised to gain a competitive edge while ensuring that their workflow, staff and customer experience are well looked after. These innovations are geared to flip the foodservice industry on its head, so as this change is embraced, the only thing left to do is to start cooking.
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