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