A UK start-up is aiming to automate commercial food preparation with robots
Spotted: Robotics startup Karakuri is hoping to remove the human element from commercial food preparation. The company currently has two robots – the DK-One, which can create unique dishes for each customer; and the lower-cost Marley, designed for smaller food production services such as making ice cream or cocktails.
Karakuri’s robots allow a greater range of personalisation in meal preparation. For example, the DK-One allows customers to personalise ingredients and portion sizes, and to have control over nutritional content such as calories, protein and fat levels. Food from many different cuisines could all be prepared by one robot, helping kitchens to save on space and staffing.
The system could be especially useful in hospitals, where meals need to meet each patient’s specific needs. Because of the system’s rapid turn-around time, orders can be placed in real-time, rather than in advance, which minimises waste.
While automating food productions sounds like a way to eliminate staff, Karakuri suggests that it could ultimately make food preparation more enjoyable. The robots can be used to perform boring, repetitive, high-volume and time-consuming tasks. This leaves chefs with more time to spend with customers and on more creative, higher-value services.
The company has recently raised nearly €8 million in seed funding led by UK grocery giant Ocado. Ocado CEO Tim Steiner has called the investment in Karakuri, “a game-changer in the preparation of food to go.”