The Robots Are The Chefs In This Japanese Restaurant

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These Robots Will Be Your Chefs Today

A restaurant has just opened in Nagoya, Japan that uses robots instead of humans as its chefs.  It may not seem that amazing at first, but once you see the video later in this post I think most of you will be as blown away as I am.  The chefs work their gastronomic magic in a kitchen placed front and center in the middle of the restaurant, giving customers a front row seat on the action.

The video is shot from the perspective that you are one of the customers.  You can hear the sounds of the robots as their joints make that characteristic sound of robot movement.  You can see other customers in the restaurant as they experience the restaurant in their own way – some mesmerized by the robots, others focused on their food and seemingly oblivious to the fact that the robots are even there.  Its an awesome scene.  Its yet another one of those increasingly common moments that forces us to ponder the rapidly evolving future of man and machine.  Check out the video below:

The robots are fully autonomous, taking a customer order and cooking it from start to finish.  This includes boiling the noodles, pouring broth, adding spices and toppings, and so on.  The orders are complex too, requiring the robots to take customer preference for amount and type of sauce, salt, noodle, and so on.   The finished product is handed off to a human server who brings the food to the customer’s table.  The irony could not be more real as we witness the lowly human in the role of a mere server while the robot takes on the cooking.

Reuters says the robots are serving 80 bowls of tasty ramen soup on a busy day.  It takes the robots about 1 minute 40 seconds to cook a bowl that costs the equivalent of 7 US dollars.

The restaurant, called FA-men (pronounced Fu-a-men) based in Nagoya, Japan, takes its name from the phrase “Fully Automated raMEN” says Ni-Lab.  Not content to simply sit around when there are no orders to cook, the robots can be seen doing tricks and even performing pretend combat with a sword (knife) and a shield (plate) in homage to Manzai, a  style of stand-up comedy in Japan.  If you know Japanese, or are just curious, you can check out FA-men’s website.

The robots are produced by AISEI, an industrial robotics company that has apparently re-purposed its industrial robotic arms for the task of cooking rather than for your more standard industrial process.  Although first appearing in robotic hotbed Japan, we can expect robotic chefs to move their way across the world in the coming years.  This is a fascinating trend and I can’t wait to see a restaurant like this here in the States.  Somebody please make it happen!

Discussion — 44 Responses

  • ariel August 3, 2009 on 9:10 pm

    I like the idea but there could be problems.
    Technical malfunctions,
    Repairs,
    Who knows how much that could
    Cost plus what if there’s a power outage or
    Something?
    Automaticly shut down?
    Are there any people being surveilance
    For the equipment?
    There is so many questions.
    Its a very nice idea though.

  • ariel August 3, 2009 on 5:10 pm

    I like the idea but there could be problems.
    Technical malfunctions,
    Repairs,
    Who knows how much that could
    Cost plus what if there’s a power outage or
    Something?
    Automaticly shut down?
    Are there any people being surveilance
    For the equipment?
    There is so many questions.
    Its a very nice idea though.

  • Restaurant Webdesign August 3, 2009 on 10:48 pm

    The robots look very impressive and it looks like it could be quite entertaining eating there especially when the robots are spinning plates!

    Apart from the robots the restaurant looks very dull!

  • Raelifin August 3, 2009 on 10:48 pm
  • Restaurant Webdesign August 3, 2009 on 6:48 pm

    The robots look very impressive and it looks like it could be quite entertaining eating there especially when the robots are spinning plates!

    Apart from the robots the restaurant looks very dull!

  • Raelifin August 3, 2009 on 6:48 pm
  • Keith Kleiner August 3, 2009 on 11:04 pm

    Ariel,

    You propose some valid concerns, but even despite all of those issues, it is possible these robots could costs less than humans over their useful lifetimes. If not in this version, then in future versions where the costs go down. Costs are always higher for first adopters like FA-men.

  • Keith Kleiner August 3, 2009 on 7:04 pm

    Ariel,

    You propose some valid concerns, but even despite all of those issues, it is possible these robots could costs less than humans over their useful lifetimes. If not in this version, then in future versions where the costs go down. Costs are always higher for first adopters like FA-men.

  • Keith Kleiner August 3, 2009 on 11:05 pm

    Raelifin,

    Thanks for the extra link. I had seen that video, but felt the one linked to in the story was more pure and gave a better sense of the technology. I love how the video linked to in the original post is taken as if you are the customer, and you can hear the natural sounds of the restaurant in the background.

  • Keith Kleiner August 3, 2009 on 7:05 pm

    Raelifin,

    Thanks for the extra link. I had seen that video, but felt the one linked to in the story was more pure and gave a better sense of the technology. I love how the video linked to in the original post is taken as if you are the customer, and you can hear the natural sounds of the restaurant in the background.

  • robot makes music August 4, 2009 on 12:02 am

    Well, they obviously have surveillance – the waitstaff.

    I’m sure regular maintenance can be performed to prevent breakdowns – lack of such things is what makes our cars break down, and not bad engineering.

    I for one, look forward to our new robot gourmetlords!

  • robot makes music August 3, 2009 on 8:02 pm

    Well, they obviously have surveillance – the waitstaff.

    I’m sure regular maintenance can be performed to prevent breakdowns – lack of such things is what makes our cars break down, and not bad engineering.

    I for one, look forward to our new robot gourmetlords!

  • Aoi August 4, 2009 on 12:20 am

    Fun video, but these are just assembly robots, similar to the ones that were making gyoza in Japan back in the 1980s. They do not seem to be involved in making the broth or the noodles themselves, or any of the garnishes, all of course critical to a good ramen outcome. I too welcome the forthcoming chefbots, but am waiting to see a robot prepare the actual broth of ramen, which is arguably the hardest part of making the dish (olfactory sensors, anyone?).

  • Aoi August 3, 2009 on 8:20 pm

    Fun video, but these are just assembly robots, similar to the ones that were making gyoza in Japan back in the 1980s. They do not seem to be involved in making the broth or the noodles themselves, or any of the garnishes, all of course critical to a good ramen outcome. I too welcome the forthcoming chefbots, but am waiting to see a robot prepare the actual broth of ramen, which is arguably the hardest part of making the dish (olfactory sensors, anyone?).

  • Phallus Nocturne August 4, 2009 on 12:45 am

    @ariel You obviously never worked in a restaurant ^^

    Unless the robotic cook goes on a rampage, I’m pretty sure that the robot who could screw up as much as a human being can is not even close to completion! :) Wait let me rephrase that. I believe that the scientist who will one day come up with a robot who could, on purpose, screw up as badly as a human could is not even born! :D

    I’m just not sure how to argue with a robot about not getting what you ordered..

    I wonder what happened with McDonald’s ATM like cooking machine?

    Oh! And if the robot cook isn’t happy he probably doesn’t throw stuff at you either!

    Robot win! ^^

  • Phallus Nocturne August 3, 2009 on 8:45 pm

    @ariel You obviously never worked in a restaurant ^^

    Unless the robotic cook goes on a rampage, I’m pretty sure that the robot who could screw up as much as a human being can is not even close to completion! :) Wait let me rephrase that. I believe that the scientist who will one day come up with a robot who could, on purpose, screw up as badly as a human could is not even born! :D

    I’m just not sure how to argue with a robot about not getting what you ordered..

    I wonder what happened with McDonald’s ATM like cooking machine?

    Oh! And if the robot cook isn’t happy he probably doesn’t throw stuff at you either!

    Robot win! ^^

  • Kevin August 4, 2009 on 2:58 am

    For restaurants like McDonald’s, where the cooking process is a rigorously homogenized routine, the workers are already treated like robots.

    It seems likely that the big fast food chains could finish the process of automating food production pretty soon.

  • Kevin August 3, 2009 on 10:58 pm

    For restaurants like McDonald’s, where the cooking process is a rigorously homogenized routine, the workers are already treated like robots.

    It seems likely that the big fast food chains could finish the process of automating food production pretty soon.

  • gideon August 4, 2009 on 3:38 am

    Its a step closer but I think people will believe in this more when the robot is able to open all the packing the food came in, able to dissect and remove pieces from the food that are undesirable to consume, and transport any item it needs for the meals preparation itself within its kitchen space. When they reach that point so that all the robot needs is the unprocessed food to be brought to it, and you come back when its done cooking to a completed meal, then we can fire all the chefs.

    Now we just need robots with taste buds…

  • gideon August 3, 2009 on 11:38 pm

    Its a step closer but I think people will believe in this more when the robot is able to open all the packing the food came in, able to dissect and remove pieces from the food that are undesirable to consume, and transport any item it needs for the meals preparation itself within its kitchen space. When they reach that point so that all the robot needs is the unprocessed food to be brought to it, and you come back when its done cooking to a completed meal, then we can fire all the chefs.

    Now we just need robots with taste buds…

  • L33tminion August 4, 2009 on 7:10 am

    They’re not very human-like robots, but the way they talk to eachother while preparing the food is a bit uncanny-valley-ish.

  • L33tminion August 4, 2009 on 3:10 am

    They’re not very human-like robots, but the way they talk to eachother while preparing the food is a bit uncanny-valley-ish.

  • Balakumar Muthu August 4, 2009 on 10:30 am

    singularity is already here!

  • Balakumar Muthu August 4, 2009 on 6:30 am

    singularity is already here!

  • OneSTDV August 5, 2009 on 12:05 pm

    I wonder how the increasing automation of menial tasks will interact with dysgenic fertility. Less intelligent people produce more children and these simple labor jobs are where their economic value lies. If a growing lower-IQ class has nowhere to work because robots have taken their jobs, that isn’t a good situation.

    They’ll initially become the robot operators, but soon the robot will function completely autonomously.

  • OneSTDV August 5, 2009 on 8:05 am

    I wonder how the increasing automation of menial tasks will interact with dysgenic fertility. Less intelligent people produce more children and these simple labor jobs are where their economic value lies. If a growing lower-IQ class has nowhere to work because robots have taken their jobs, that isn’t a good situation.

    They’ll initially become the robot operators, but soon the robot will function completely autonomously.

  • keldwud August 6, 2009 on 1:31 am

    could be problems

    what if they get sick?
    what if the employee is hung over?
    what if the employee shows up late?
    what if an employee accidentally loses product through negligence?
    what if there is an outbreak of a disease and no humans can show up for work?
    how much money do we need to spend if there is a work related accident? Cost?
    Who is going to repair the humans when they get hurt?

    so many questions.

  • keldwud August 5, 2009 on 9:31 pm

    could be problems

    what if they get sick?
    what if the employee is hung over?
    what if the employee shows up late?
    what if an employee accidentally loses product through negligence?
    what if there is an outbreak of a disease and no humans can show up for work?
    how much money do we need to spend if there is a work related accident? Cost?
    Who is going to repair the humans when they get hurt?

    so many questions.

  • Luke August 9, 2009 on 3:34 pm

    >I like the idea but there could be problems.
    >Technical malfunctions,
    >Repairs,

    People can get sick, too.

    >Cost plus what if there’s a power outage or
    >Something?

    It’s called “UPS” or “Uninterruptible Power Source”, you know, those backup batteries you’ve seen sometimes..

    >Automaticly shut down?
    >Are there any people being surveilance
    >For the equipment?

    These things have worked in factories for years, they have been tested. Again, a surveillance center to check them all is not an hard task to accomplish.

    >There is so many questions.

    Nothing that has not been already answered though.

  • Luke August 9, 2009 on 11:34 am

    >I like the idea but there could be problems.
    >Technical malfunctions,
    >Repairs,

    People can get sick, too.

    >Cost plus what if there’s a power outage or
    >Something?

    It’s called “UPS” or “Uninterruptible Power Source”, you know, those backup batteries you’ve seen sometimes..

    >Automaticly shut down?
    >Are there any people being surveilance
    >For the equipment?

    These things have worked in factories for years, they have been tested. Again, a surveillance center to check them all is not an hard task to accomplish.

    >There is so many questions.

    Nothing that has not been already answered though.

  • Luke August 9, 2009 on 3:42 pm

    >For restaurants like McDonald’s, where the >cooking process is a rigorously homogenized >routine, the workers are already treated like >robots.

    Yeah, that’s why we should leave such mundane tasks to robots: they’re the only ones who won’t get unhappy doing them.

    Some days ago I phoned DHL here in Italy to ask for a parcel to be taken. I didn’t talk to an human operator but a computer who could understand some basic language. That’s the other side of the coin you’re seeing here… Both robotics and A.I. are improving and, overtime, they will gradually replace us in the most boring jobs (and not-so boring, but I’m not the one that have to address this social issue, I’m sure a solution exists anyway).

  • Luke August 9, 2009 on 11:42 am

    >For restaurants like McDonald’s, where the >cooking process is a rigorously homogenized >routine, the workers are already treated like >robots.

    Yeah, that’s why we should leave such mundane tasks to robots: they’re the only ones who won’t get unhappy doing them.

    Some days ago I phoned DHL here in Italy to ask for a parcel to be taken. I didn’t talk to an human operator but a computer who could understand some basic language. That’s the other side of the coin you’re seeing here… Both robotics and A.I. are improving and, overtime, they will gradually replace us in the most boring jobs (and not-so boring, but I’m not the one that have to address this social issue, I’m sure a solution exists anyway).

  • Luke August 9, 2009 on 3:52 pm

    >I wonder how the increasing automation of >menial tasks will interact with dysgenic >fertility. Less intelligent people produce more >children and these simple labor jobs are where >their economic value lies. If a growing >lower-IQ class has nowhere to work because >robots have taken their jobs, that isn’t a good >situation.

    People in the seventies used this motto: “work less to let all work”. They believed increasing automation was going to set them free from menial jobs like these. Then, a number of issues made it impossible. Now we can think it about it again thanks to improved computing, sensors, robotics and renewnable power sources.

  • Luke August 9, 2009 on 11:52 am

    >I wonder how the increasing automation of >menial tasks will interact with dysgenic >fertility. Less intelligent people produce more >children and these simple labor jobs are where >their economic value lies. If a growing >lower-IQ class has nowhere to work because >robots have taken their jobs, that isn’t a good >situation.

    People in the seventies used this motto: “work less to let all work”. They believed increasing automation was going to set them free from menial jobs like these. Then, a number of issues made it impossible. Now we can think it about it again thanks to improved computing, sensors, robotics and renewnable power sources.

  • Phallus Nocturne August 11, 2009 on 12:01 am

    @OneSTDV

    Well, if you believe in conspiracy theories, the world government will bring you a solution to that issue with their plan to diminish the world population by 90%.. Again, if you believe in conspiracy theories.

    Or you could see it this way. If the worker class doesn’t work anymore that means a lot more people at home during the day which, also means, better daytime tv!

  • Phallus Nocturne August 10, 2009 on 8:01 pm

    @OneSTDV

    Well, if you believe in conspiracy theories, the world government will bring you a solution to that issue with their plan to diminish the world population by 90%.. Again, if you believe in conspiracy theories.

    Or you could see it this way. If the worker class doesn’t work anymore that means a lot more people at home during the day which, also means, better daytime tv!

  • David August 25, 2009 on 3:55 pm

    The main problem I have with this opinion piece is saying the “lowly human server.” Why would you say such a thing other than to incite? Mission accomplished, based on the responses you’ve managed to get (including this one.) With tips, servers (or waiters as most people call them) very often make more money than the cooks. I say “cooks” because a chef would have to do more than pour soup. The cost of one of those machines would pay several line cook’s salaries. The only practical application for using robots like this is for producing massive amounts of food. That’s why the inside of a Stouffer’s or Swanson plant has looked like this for years, minus the little show. It doesn’t force anyone to ponder anything. It is what it is, dinner and a show.

    • ganv David October 14, 2009 on 9:07 pm

      David,
      Of course ‘lowly human’ is to be provocative, but the point is clear and unavoidable. If these machines can do this today, 10 years from now there are going to be many fewer jobs for humans at fast food chains. Then it will be human truck drivers that will be obsolete. Someday it may be architects. Society is going to have to change faster than human society has ever changed in the past.

  • David August 25, 2009 on 11:55 am

    The main problem I have with this opinion piece is saying the “lowly human server.” Why would you say such a thing other than to incite? Mission accomplished, based on the responses you’ve managed to get (including this one.) With tips, servers (or waiters as most people call them) very often make more money than the cooks. I say “cooks” because a chef would have to do more than pour soup. The cost of one of those machines would pay several line cook’s salaries. The only practical application for using robots like this is for producing massive amounts of food. That’s why the inside of a Stouffer’s or Swanson plant has looked like this for years, minus the little show. It doesn’t force anyone to ponder anything. It is what it is, dinner and a show.

    • ganv David October 14, 2009 on 5:07 pm

      David,
      Of course ‘lowly human’ is to be provocative, but the point is clear and unavoidable. If these machines can do this today, 10 years from now there are going to be many fewer jobs for humans at fast food chains. Then it will be human truck drivers that will be obsolete. Someday it may be architects. Society is going to have to change faster than human society has ever changed in the past.

  • Bikramjit Singh September 25, 2009 on 7:08 am

    Can you please provide any picture, video or hyperlink which discloses a robot for cleaning kitchen utensils

  • Jakester October 14, 2009 on 9:26 pm

    Clearly this is just theatre. Why would you have restaurant robots to mimic human motions? Pouring liquids using a ladle?? C’mon. Wouldn’t it make more sense from just about every aspect to use a solenoid valve on the end of a hose attached to a large reservoir of the liquid? It’s cute and all, but this is not the future of restaurants – unless it’s dinner theatre, in which case, let’s hear some Shakespeare!

  • Jakester October 14, 2009 on 5:26 pm

    Clearly this is just theatre. Why would you have restaurant robots to mimic human motions? Pouring liquids using a ladle?? C’mon. Wouldn’t it make more sense from just about every aspect to use a solenoid valve on the end of a hose attached to a large reservoir of the liquid? It’s cute and all, but this is not the future of restaurants – unless it’s dinner theatre, in which case, let’s hear some Shakespeare!

  • Bikramjit Singh BestWackyIdeas: Dishwasher September 25, 2009 on 3:08 am

    Can you please provide any picture, video or hyperlink which discloses a robot for cleaning kitchen utensils