What does the restaurant of the future look like?

Today's customers are demanding a higher level of service than ever before, and restaurants are harnessing the power of technology to help deliver this.
26 September 2018

Technology is serving up a wonderful experience to diners. Source: Shutterstock

{cap_it letter=’M’]any of us have ordered dinner via a kiosk without the need to have a human take our order, and have paid for a meal through an iPad without the need to hand over our cards.

Automation has been making its way into restaurants for many years now, helping to deliver a friction-less service to customers. Automation is being used in many ways, including ordering, delivery, payment processing, loyalty rewards programs, and more.

The number of restaurants adopting automation is growing, as managers look to save on labor costs and today’s consumers get more comfortable with technology.

But past touch-screen food kiosks and iPad payments, automation in the food industry is really starting to take off.

Robot chefs

The McKinsey Global Institute released a report last year that said food preparation jobs are highly vulnerable to automation because workers spend so much time on predictable physical tasks.

Robot chefs can help carry out repetitive tasks. Source: Shutterstock

While they may not have mastered the art of baking the perfect peach souffle or how to serve the creamiest of pomme purée, many restaurants are enlisting the help of robots to help cook and prepare food.

A restaurant called Spyce in Boston uses seven robotic chefs to cook up a storm for customers. After human runners deliver the required ingredients to the robots, these chefs then use large mechanical woks which cook your food with magnetic induction.

Once cooked, the meal is poured into a bowl for human workers to garnish and make presentable. The woks are then cleaned by a steam jet before taking in new ingredients.

Facial recognition ordering

Some restaurants have introduced facial-recognition software to kiosks to help guide customers’ orders.

Using the technology, restaurants are cutting queues and speeding up the ordering process by remembering customers order preferences, no longer requiring them to go through multiple screens of questions.

The technology snaps a picture of your face as you’re ordering from the kiosk, banking it into the system along with your order. Upon making a return visit to the restaurant, customers will have their favorite items suggested to them via the kiosk.

This type of software is already available at a number of fast-food chains such as Caliburger and KFC in Beijing.

Autonomous food delivery

Ever had a robot deliver your dinner? Well now you can, with many restaurants offering this option to customers.

Just Eat, a UK website which allows customers to order food from local takeaways, have employed a fleet of delivery robots to bring customers their orders.

The bots can hold up to 10kg of food, are fitted with ultrasonic sensors, nine cameras, a radar and a GPS to help them to cross busy roads and navigate streets efficiently.

Pushing technology innovation in the food industry even further is Uber, who in May announced plans to deliver food by drone.

Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber said that customers should expect meal delivery in five to thirty minutes – because the “world needs flying burgers“.

Uber is not the first company to try out food delivery via drone however. In Hong Kong, a similar company to Just Eat – FoodPanda – already delivers meals by drone in as little as twenty minutes.