AI & Robotics will change the way we eat.

In my ebook “The Future of Work”, The rise of Fifth Industrial Revolution, I write how Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will change fast food restaurants in the next six years.
I decided to elaborate on this topic to explain how this will happen in the next six years.

The Future of Work
George Edward Muir

There will be three major stages in this revolution.

There will be three major stages in this revolution.

  • How we order food at a restaurant.
  • Robotic cooking and 3d Food Printing.
  • How Artificial Intelligence will decide on your food choice.

Stage 1

We as humans are now accustomed to the self-service kiosk when buying groceries, furniture or checking-in to a flight.
The presence of self-service food kiosks is now appearing in fast food restaurants. The purpose is to reduce staff costs and increase profitability. With the implementation of customer relationship solutions in the kiosks, they will recognise customer preferences and will be able to market special offers.

In fast food restaurants, profitability is generated through large sales volume. Humans are the most significant overhead cost, and thus it is more economical to replace humans with technology. At the same time, human interaction and dialogue is a critical component from a customer’s perspective. Customer service is more significant the more costly the restaurants become. A major challenged for the restaurant and its reputation there is a discrepancy between the order and the delivery to the customer.

Stage 2

The automation of kitchens with robotics within a fast food restaurant is the second stage of this revolution.
Within this stage, I can identify three distinct developments.
Initially, there will be robotics in the kitchen. We already have robotics in the processing of food in factories.

The first example is the Spyce Kitchen in Boston, MA, USA.

Four MIT students set up the Spyce Robotic Kitchen.
The restaurant has robotic ordering kiosks from order to delivery around 3 minutes. All bowls are 7.50$ and very healthy.

All recipes are developed by a human chief, with four choice sections, all ingredients, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. All customers can customise their meals. Meals cooked in woks and robotic runners collect the ingredients and make the meal. The wok then empties the food into a bowl where a human collects it and adds the finishing touches.

The robots do the hard work, the making, the washing and the other-workers focus on customer service and hospitality.
By replacing humans with robots, you can make your food healthier and cheaper.

The customers love that fact that the food is healthier, that they save money compared to other fast food, but the silver bullet is to be able to customise your menu and get it presented to you within three minutes, so essential to be able to skip the queues at lunchtime.

The second example is creator, San Fransisco, CA, USA.

creator has developed two automated hamburger bots, a lovely design that deliveries made to order, high-quality, hamburgers. It takes five minutes to cook the order, and no human is involved in the making of the hamburger. The bot has a total of 350 sensors, providing precisely the hamburger that you request — super fresh burgers with better quality for a lower price.
The hamburger bot makes 320 hamburgers an hour, and the customer can choose the from two cheese, 12 seasonings, 15 sauces, locally produced vegetables and buns plus antibiotic and hormone free, pasture raised brisket and chuck come from a coop of family ranches on the west coast called Country Natural Beef.
There is a positive reaction to creator hamburger. From the customers, made to order a hamburger with no human hands touching the burger from the beginning of the cooking process. Freshness and quality at great price.
The workers are healthier because they are not breathing in the fumes and sweating in the heat.
The workers can be involved in other creative tasks.
The owner can get make hamburgers in a smaller space at a lower cost, allowing the ingredients to be of higher quality.

As well as food bots, there is 3d Printing of food.

The ability to print food already exists today, commercial 3d food printing is available, both for the home and for catering organisations.
There are 3d food printers for Chocolate, pasta, pastries available around the 2.500 to $5.000 price tag. Today’s printers are using a 3d extrusion technology, in effect replacing plastics / and metals with a paste-type ingredients.
This allows chefs to create structures and shapes that they cannot do in today’s kitchens, with fresh ideas. These printers are using fresh ingredients to make new and exciting food.

The world’s first 3d printing restaurant, Food Ink

The world’s first restaurant where the food, utensils and furniture are all 3d printed.It is a pop-up restaurant that highlights the advances in 3d printing. Food is being 3d printed using the latest technologies such as by flow, a paste 3d extrusion printer. By flow can create customised shapes that chefs cannot make by hand.
Beehex was backed by NASA to help develop a concept for 3d food printing for space travel. One of their products, Chef 3d, can print a pizza in six minutes.

The next evolution is Bioprinting.

Bioprinting has been developed to fabricate biomedical parts, natural tissue and organs. Some companies are pioneering this technology to create synthetic materials such as fur and leather.

This research has been applied to 3d printing of synthetic meat. Dr Amy Logan, a team leader for dairy science at The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), has just launched a three-year study into the personalised fabrication of smart food systems.

The mission statement “Our scientists and engineers at CSIRO are working towards this future where food, nutraceuticals and other products will be personalised based on an individual’s genetic makeup, and a reality where optimum well-being for each person is a reality. We are building the underpinning science required to: Develop a personalized and instant food processor, providing the smart, structured soft materials (food and cosmetics) on demand and personalized for you on the day, incorporating sensor technologies that measure food – body and cosmetic – body interactions coupled with personalized genomics and phenotype (lifestyle) data.”

[Personalizing Food, Directed by Your DNA | The Spoon.]

Dan Gibson talks about their DNA printer (the first printer in 2013) in his 2018 TED talk that allows them to edit DNA. He talks about creating life-giving scientists the power to convert digital information into biological material. Scientists can read DNA easily but create (writing) is not as easy. It will not take long to industrialise this approach to make food.

Stage 3

Everybody has their personal assistant with them, their mobile telephone. It is continuously collecting data, and when it is connected to your health devices; smartwatch, health bracelet, and other IoT devices. They are al collecting even more information about your body. We also add useful information through apps, such as water apps and calorie counters. The artificial intelligence will calculate your daily intake, the fat intake, the vitamin intake, the burn rate of your body to perfection that it can simulate how your body is functioning.

Once your personal assistant is on communication with the self-service kiosk, whether they are at a restaurant or a grocery store, the loop is completed. Your personal assistant will be able to order on your behalf, knowing your preferences and also predicting any specific customisations and in other words, making our food choices.
When we are conformable with this level of autonomy, your personal assistant will program the customisation of the food to include supplements and vitamins, remove/replace ingredients that will help your body to function better.
Your personal assistant will know you, your preferences and your body better than you do. It can predict your wants and needs, and it will order food/meals on your behalf. It will ensure you eat at the right time and if you ever overindulge, it will balance your food intake over time.

The Next Six Years

Over the next six years, the food revolution will have begun and that the majority of people will accept the progress in the robotisation of the making of food.
Just as most homes have a microwave, I believe that every home kitchen will have a 3d food printer of some form.
Obesity and our need to be more healthy and fitter will be a major selling point of this revolution.
There are of course significant consequences on workers who work at fast food restaurants and grocery stores. Artificial intelligence and robots will replace their jobs. Even exclusive restaurants will use robotics in the kitchen as we can already see that Michelin star chefs use their robots today.
The most controversial discussion will be the use of bioprinting. There has already been a backlash on genetically modified foods. The ability to ask for food as in StarTrek is not too far away technically but will probably not be commercialised by 2025.

George Muir is the founder and CEO of Udal Cuain AB.

He is a renowned keynote speaker and Futurist. He is known for igniting ideas, discussing the practical importance of the digital revolution in business and how artificial intelligence will impact our professional and private lives in the future.

Author: George Edward Muir

George is the founder and CEO of Udal Cuain AB. George is a renowned Futurist, responsible for igniting ideas, discussion on the practical applications of the digital revolution of business and how artificial intelligence will impact our professional lives in the future. George spent over 25 years in various roles at IKEA, with a long career in technology development across IKEA, which included the digitisation of IKEA in Sweden and the establishment of Enterprise Architecture. He also worked in the business development areas around Digital Workplace, Human Resources and Business Processes. George helped establish both the Digital Workplace Group and Make IKEA a Great Workplace as process developer of the ‘Visualize the Future Workplace’ process

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