In Shanghai, robots are in the kitchen

This is the restaurant everyone is talking about in Shanghai. The AI ​​Canteen, or “artificial intelligence canteen” in French, welcomes local workers and curious onlookers every lunchtime. A collective catering service like any other, one might think from the outside. Only here, no human beings, only robots, from the kitchen to the service, says the Japanese magazine Nikkei Asia.

The quality seems to be there. “I can’t tell you if it was a person or a robot that did this”, even a customer is surprised. Even the prices offered are not excessive, with an average of 4 dollars for a menu, reports Nikkei Asia.

The restaurant, which opened in a mall on July 19, is run by Chinese start-up Shanghai Xixiang Yixiang E-commerce. Its founders want to demonstrate that kitchen robots and artificial intelligence can help solve the shortage of labor in the restaurant industry.

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In this canteen, the artificial intelligence programs analyze the average crowd and decide on the dishes to be offered according to the expected demand. AI also steps in in the kitchen, making sure the right foods are used in the right dishes. For example, if the wrong vegetable gets into a recipe, the system reports the error.

“Artificial intelligence algorithms manage the food preparation process throughout the kitchen, instead of it being done by a chef,” says Li Ming, co-founder and CEO of Xixiang Yixiang E-commerce.

“Our company uses robots to standardize food preparation and provide customers with fresh and healthy meals. This is our main objective. Price reduction comes next. Right now we only have two to three humans, who are responsible for designing the menus.”

A recipe that works and the company, which already manages two establishments, plans to open a third during the month of August. Catering is a lucrative market in China, recalls Nikkei Asia. The sector, which is slowly recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, should represent nearly 767 billion dollars in 2023.

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