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!