A company behind an innovative pizza concept staffed by robot chefs is firmly on course to launch in 2019 after appointing a design partner to produce the equipment that will lie at the heart of its kitchens.
French start-up EKIM will work with Universal Robots on the pizza-making robot, called ‘PAZZI’, which is capable of making up to 10 pizzas simultaneously from nearly 5 million recipe combinations on a 24-hour basis.
The idea has been several years in the making and seen the company face a number of obstacles, most notably how to create robots that can operate in harsh conditions and a restricted environment.
But Universal Robots has come up with the answer after creating an autonomous system with three robotic arms based on the UR10 and UR5 arms that it manufactures. They cut and flatten the dough, place the selected ingredients, bake, cut, and package the pizzas. Sysaxes, one of Universal Robots’ distributors in France, will supply grippers and accessories certified to work seamlessly with the robot.
Customers can watch the robots prepare their orders while executing the pre-programmed movements. Three-time pizza champion Thierry Graffagnino has even been employed by EKIM to ensure the robots mimic the movements of a real pizza chef.
Jacob Pascual-Pape, regional sales director for EMEA at Universal Robots, said: “The main difficulty experienced, during the design of this culinary spectacle, was the harsh conditions to which the robots were exposed in such a restricted environment. Our cobots have risen to the challenge and worked perfectly under these very unique conditions.”
EKIM believes the project has the potential to provide operators in high traffic areas, such as railways, airports, shopping centres and campuses, with an effective catering solution.
A total of more than 5,000 hours and 6,000 components were needed to design the systems that make up the autonomous pizza restaurant.
EKIM plans to franchise the PAZZI restaurant operation once it has launched a pilot in France early next year.
Cyrill Hamon, EKIM’s deputy managing director in charge of automated systems, said it was delighted to have a design partner in place.
“We chose Universal Robots because they were the only robots on the market that were sufficiently light, precise and aesthetic, while having a large range and a payload adapted to our needs,” he said.