Four engineers from MIT have opened a fast-food restaurant in Boston that uses mechanical woks to autonomously prepare meals in under three minutes.
Billed as the "world's first" robotic kitchen, the Spyce restaurant employs a series of seven automated cooking woks in place of human chefs. These robots are designed to simultaneously prepare food in three minutes or less.
The project was born from four MIT engineering graduates' dissatisfaction with the high price tag placed on quality, fast food.
In a bid to "reinvent" fast-food dining, they came up with the Spyce: a robotic kitchen that can serve up to 200 meals per hour costing around £5.60 each (approximately $7.50).
"Spyce is at the intersection of hospitality and technology," said MIT graduates and founders Michael Farid, Kale Rogers, Luke Schlueter and Brady Knight, who developed the technology in their fraternity basement in 2015.
Customers place their orders using a touch-screen device inside the restaurant. Then an ingredient delivery system, or "runner," collects the ingredients and portions them, before delivering them into one of the robotic woks.
The pre-portioned ingredients are then mixed in the cylindrical, rotating drums and cooked at 450 degrees fahrenheit using induction technology.
The woks are set at an angle that allows the customers to watch their food being prepared in front of them.
Once this process is complete, the pot tilts downwards and tips the food into a bowl. The only human intervention happens after the meal has been made and plated up, when extra elements such as sauces and toppings are put into the bowls.
The machines then autonomously clean themselves, consuming 80 per cent less water than the average dishwasher in the process.
Described by its creators as "culinary excellence elevated by technology," the robotic kitchen cooks meals ranging from rice or grain bowls to curries, salads, stir-frys, pasta and noodle bowls.
The MIT engineers recruited the culinary skills of Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud and Sam Benson to develop the menu, which boasts a variety of cuisines including Thai, Moroccan, Latin and Hearth.
Boulud, who signed on as both an investor and culinary director of the restaurant, and Benson, who leads the team as the executive chef, developed a menu that would combine their expertise in the "old-world techniques of French cuisine" with modern technology.
The robotic kitchen opened to the public on 3 May 2018, at 241 Washington Street in Boston’s Downtown Crossing.
ÉCAL student Erika Marthins also combines robotics with food in her series of interactive desserts that move, make noise and refract light, to offer interesting alternatives to the average sweet treat.