Next Up For Robotic Automation: Serving Pizza Untouched By Human Hands

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Let's Pizza makes pizza the way people like it: fresh, fast, and (relatively) cheap.

Anyone squeamish during the Seinfeld episode when Poppy is kneading pizza dough after failing to wash his hands in the restroom finally has a convenient place they can buy fresh pizza "untouched by human hands." Let's Pizza is a pizza vending machine that produces fresh 11-inch pizzas in 2.5 minutes for about $6. It mixes the flour and water, kneads the dough, then adds sauce, cheese, and other toppings, and finally bakes it in an infrared oven for about a minute. Currently, the machines offer cheese, pepperoni, ham, smoked bacon, and fresh veggies.

The entire pizza-making process is automated and viewable through a window at the front of the machine. Each machine is connected through the web so that refrigerated inventory can be replenished as needed (it stores enough ingredients to make 90 pizzas). The company intends to offer opportunities for franchising one or more of the machines, but it is also entertaining companies that want to distribute the machines nationally. A New York Times article from 2009 stated that the price of the machine was $32,000, which is about 10 times more than a typical soda or snack vending machine, but Let's Pizza is producing a fresh product that is a meal.

Let's Pizza is a joint effort between an Italian entrepreneur, Claudio Torghele, and a Dutch distributor, A1 Concepts, and for the last 3 years, the pizza vending machine has been successful in Europe, especially in Italy -- a testament to the quality of the pizza, according to the CEO. Now the first machine in the US will be installed  in Atlanta, but if Americans warm up to the idea, odds are that pizza vending machines will show up in a lot of the same places that the robotic baristas will be serving up coffee: airports, malls, hotels, universities, train stations, and anywhere else people want fresh pizza conveniently.

Here's the extended promotional video for Let's Pizza that shows you the entire process:

[Media: GloboYouTube]

[Sources: Let's PizzaPizza Marketplace]

David J. Hill

Managing Director, Digital Media at Singularity University
I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.

Discussion — 11 Responses

  • why06 July 16, 2012 on 8:13 am

    I like it.

    But I can get a Hot&Ready pizza at Little Ceasers for $5, but I would buy this at a theme park if it was this cheap.

  • Gorgand Grandor July 16, 2012 on 1:23 pm

    It’s strange, because I keep thinking about how clean the machines will be. I don’t want a dusty pizza. Willing to give it a go in the name of vending machine progress, though.

  • digitalcole July 16, 2012 on 2:09 pm

    I’ve seen this on another site and I’ll ask the same question.

    Why hasn’t McD’s (and other big chain fast food joints) automated their dining facilities to do something similar? It seems to me to be technologically possible, plus it’d save the company a huge amount of money by elimination of the employees.

    I’d be very interested in hearing a discussion about this.

    • why06 digitalcole July 16, 2012 on 3:51 pm

      You hit the nail on the head. When I was working for $7.25 an hour at a fast food chain I couldnt help but wondering: “A machine could replace all of us. Especially me.. all I did was make shakes.

      Automation is going to hit America so hard a knock this nations socks off. It happened first in with Self-serv gas stations. Now its self-checkout at super markets. In a year literally all our video stores closed to be replaced by Red Box; a movie vending machine. If this hits the fast-food industry there will people out of work so fast and not a care given.

      The only problem is the maintenance and cleaning of the machine. It would be very hard include a fryer and grill in the machine. Food is messy, the machines need lots of cleaning, but I think its possible to start with half machines first. For instance a (fry & shake machine) that servers Fried food. A burger machines for burgers and things.

      The machines could operate 24/7 with a small downtown for maintenance, cleaning, and restocking.

      If this occurred millions would be laid off. whats saddest of all is these would be low income people to begin with. And slowly the footholds needed to raise yourself up out of poverty become less and less.

      TBH though i think the robo revolution happens to give people treated as second class citizens fair treatment as real people and not to have to work as machines.

      When 3d printing comes of age China is really in for it. They can’t compete with that. Mass production will soon be going out of style.

    • Edaj digitalcole July 16, 2012 on 4:01 pm

      Well, it looks like the machine needs maintenance often. It could break when you least expect it.

      Also, they could be afraid of their public image, maybe there will be headlines in the papers with along the lines:
      “McD workers loses their job, now it’s all done be robotics. What happens next?”

      This actually seems to apply to most 3D printer situation replacing human workers.

      But someone has to step up and do it, it’s the future.

      • David J. Hill Edaj July 16, 2012 on 6:26 pm

        It might be a public image thing, but I doubt it. McDonald’s is a master of marketing…they convince people to eat something that the majority know is bad for them because it’s convenient and cheap. That’s why putting nutritional labels on their food doesn’t really matter.

        Actually, McDonald’s is a 2012 Olympic sponsor…how’s that for marketing?

        The day will come when its cheaper to have robots than people making Big Macs, and I suspect a company like McDonald’s will have a master marketing stroke for convincing everyone that robots are better for everyone.

        And I’ll agree with them, perhaps not their reasons for it, but I’m all for getting people better jobs.

        The best argument I’ve heard about McDonald’s employment is that it gives young people a start and teaches them important job skills. But is that really the best that society can do? Surely there’s a more productive, modern way that helps young people learn job skills AND helps them build careers AND utilizes their creativity, the one human capacity that will take the longest time to be replaced by machines.

        So I’m excited to see what people come up with because once manual labor is mostly off the table, what’s left is mental labor and that can only fuel the exponential rise of technology, information, and communication.

        • digitalcole David J. Hill July 16, 2012 on 8:03 pm

          Yes I agree that McD’s has a bottomless pit of PR money and that they could probably talk themselves out of anything.

          It just seems odd that they haven’t pushed for something similar. I’m not really pro big corporations but eliminating labor would save them huge amounts of money.

          In a sad way it reminds me of A Modest Proposal in the sense that McD’s (and other fast food joints) employees the lowest of the un-skilled menial labor force to serve food to the lowest of the economical/social spectrum.

    • SteveT digitalcole July 17, 2012 on 2:35 am

      Could happen in the near future. Here’s an article from not long ago:

    • Gabriel020 digitalcole August 13, 2014 on 3:48 pm

      Ye, would be nice

      A “Lets Big Mac” vending machine. They just thoss in some bulls for beef meat, and a old dead horse (cheap meat). When you pay it mince the animals and gives you a fresh Big Mac.

      McDonald’s I’m lovin it.

      I would like to see a discussion about this.

      A good thing would be that the employes cant take a slirp off your drink befoure they hand it to you. Yes, some of them does actually that.

  • benbradley July 16, 2012 on 6:03 pm

    Amusingly, I just saw another food-automation device, 7-11 convenience stores are now putting in something like Slurpee machines, but these give you mashed potatoes and gravy (also links to articles on Huffingtonpost and Gizmodo):
    There’s the Wawa convenience store chain with a sandwich making machine that Presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a short description of here, starting at about 3 minutes:
    The real breakthrough will come when more generalized and high speed robots are used to make fast food, the way they are already used on food packaging assembly lines. Imagine Flexpickers making pizzas and hamburgers faster than humanly possible!

  • Kristof July 17, 2012 on 1:26 pm

    Who wants to make millions??

    Once the automated cars comes about, get these kitchen vending machines mobile so hot freshly made food arrives at you door the moment its done cooking. Everyone in the house hold can order what they want and it arrives without human intervention…. Good idea??