Students from Imperial College London have taken part in a hackathon to develop the technology required for a robot restaurant.
Organised by technology incubator Founders Factory, the event saw teams given 48 hours and some basic equipment to come up with design concepts and prototypes. Three separate challenges were laid down: reducing waste, increasing efficiency of food preparation, and creating a novel dining experience.
Winning concept ‘RoboTable’ featured a curated menu of micro-portions that adapts and evolves based on data and taste preferences. Diners would use a smartphone app to swipe left or right on suggested dishes, with the data fed back to an automated robotic kitchen. Founders Factory wants to use the ideas formulated in the hackathon as a springboard to make its ‘Robot Restaurant’ concept a reality.
“We are just at the beginning of our journey with our own robot restaurant but many of the ideas we saw compliment our thinking of what is possible,” said Brent Hoberman, Founders Factory chairman and hackathon judge. “RoboTable were worthy winners as they combined creativity, hardware and customer data to create the ‘Tinder for foodies’.”
Brent Hoberman with the RoboTable team
“This is the zeitgeist moment for robotics and food. It’s a combination of artificial intelligence and dropping prices of robotics meaning the practical implementation is coming into the real world, ideas are no longer gimmicks.”
Other finalists included ‘talking’ food which uses natural language processing to speak to diners; a mobile kitchen that creates healthy food on demand within secure lockers and a ‘dynamic restaurant’ where diners are sat according to food taste and similarities with other customers.
Alongside Hoberman, the judging panel featured Nick Popovici of Vita Mojo, a software and nutritious fast food company, Suryansh Jalan, co-founder of new robotics company Automata, and Founders Factory’s chief scientist Dr Jeffrey Ng and head of design Claire Morris.