Food And Robots, Fiction Or Reality

    Who would have thought only years ago that the food will come from the ‘hands’ of robots, that the human workforce will not be enough anymore.

    It is a known fact that one of the biggest issues globally now is to provide food that is of sufficient quality but mainly quantity to feed and nourish the ever growing world population.

    The Precision Of Machines

    It might seem weird that people are replaced by machines, but when a device has the ability to think like a human and more than this, according to UK’s Institute of Mechanical Engineers, as much as half of the food produced all over the world ends up as waste every year when handled by humans, where as machines have reduced food waste a lot, then maybe the best thing to do is embrace technology and artificial intelligence.

    But let’s see just how much AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been taken over in the recent years.

     

    • Robotic Restaurants

     

    A hi-tech KFC restaurant has opened in Shanghai, China. Meet DUMI, the robot that runs the restaurant, takes orders, can handle order changes and sides.

     

    • Robotic Kitchen Assistants

     

    CaliBurger in California has teamed up with Miso Robotics and has welcomed  FLIPPY, the robot that can flip burgers, as well as fry, prepare and plate food.

     

    • Robot Waitress

     

    PEPPER, the humanoid robot waitress that takes customers orders, makes products recommendations and handles MasterCard payments.

    How will this affect the day to day life and livelihood of Food Service employees.

    If even President Obama has expressed concerns over how AI will affect the jobs of people all over the world, should that be a reason of concern the fast evolving pace of technology and how much should the food industry embrace the integration of robotics?

    Shortfalls Of AI

    Sure, some industries can benefit from the use of Artificial Intelligence more than others with great improvement such as banks, commerce, retail, mostly online services where the human interaction is minimum, but when it comes to direct customer service, things are very different.

    Let’s see how effective and well developed is  AI really.

    • DUMI can replace a real human restaurant manager for example, but he can’t understand different accents, therefore can’t really interact with everybody.
    • FLIPPY turned out to be too slow and expensive to take over completely as a real chef. Not to mention, it needed Humans to help it keep up with the order demand.
    • PEPPER is supposed to read emotions, but it seems it was not too good at real –like interaction.

     

    From agriculture to production and service, we observe a huge involvement of AI in the Food Industry has been more present, indicating that the human workforce can’t handle the food demand that has increased lately.

    Machines can obviously improve the process, being faster, more accurate and programmed to reach perfection, but when it comes to service, to dealing directly with the customer’s needs that are never simple or exact, AI can and has been proven to fail, because emotions can not be programmed.

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