Ever wonder what it would be like to go to your favorite restaurant and find a mechanical serving staff straight out of Star Wars? The use of AI and robotics is widespread across various industries. And for good reason! Machines have a far greater capacity to work around the clock than even the most motivated of human employees. And businesses understand the value this offers, especially for client-facing aspects. That’s why you can still get assistance from a chatbot even if the Cox customer service number has a waiting queue. But how would this play out in the culinary world? Can a robot really do everything a chef, server, or maître d’ can? Read on to find out.
The Use of AI and Robotics in Restaurants
The idea may seem strange, but the concept of using AI technology in restaurants is not science fiction. The Internet of Things, better processing power, and ML are fairly evident in most modern smart appliances. So, it is not really a huge leap to try and translate that technology into the restaurant industry. Especially since restaurants need to offer a consistently great experience to all patrons. A single bad review on third-party sites like Yelp can quickly undo months of effort.
But what exactly can an appliance or “robot” powered by AI accomplish in this setting? Objectively speaking, there are things that it can do, things it can support, and things that it absolutely can’t accomplish in the restaurant context. Discover more below:
Driving Down Human Labor Costs?
Automation is often an appealing option to most industries for one simple reason: it drives down operational costs. The same is true of the restaurant industry. A pre-programmed robot can handle tasks like brewing coffee or making chips all day long. Human employees would have to work in shifts. But the robot can work around the clock. Moreover, the robot does not require a minimum wage, health benefits, tips, or sick days. Therefore, restaurants can shift workers assigned to certain tasks to other responsibilities. Specifically, those involving interacting with customers in more qualitative ways.
Offering More Consistent Quality?
Another key appeal of AI in the restaurant industry is the accompanying increase and consistency in quality. Or, to put it another way, driving down human error factors that often lead to poor quality. To err is human, as they say. It is more or less impossible to completely eliminate the risk of human error, from coffee brewed at the wrong temperature to too much salt in tortilla chips. Of course, stringent processes help drive down this risk anyway. But a machine, especially an AI, is far less prone to mistakes. This lets restaurants assign certain tasks to the AI without fear of costly or embarrassing mistakes. Of course, restaurants will still need to make sure the ingredients being processed are consistent as well. But they don’t have to worry too much about the AI robot or appliance messing it up.
Replacing Chefs and Cooking Staff?
This is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future. Yes, AI can take on repetitive but important tasks. But it cannot completely replace human chefs or cooking staff. A chef will still add that magic ingredient to a tasty meal that keeps customers coming back for more. An AI cannot. For instance, an AI cannot taste the food or ingredients the same way a human can. Therefore, there is no real guarantee that it can create the same outcome as a master chef. As many culinary experts will tell you, cooking is an art. And AI has not evolved to the point where it can create art. It can replicate it at best. But there is no way chefs and cooks will be replaced.
Supporting Non-Cooking Processes?
This is an area where machines and AI are visible very often in restaurants. At McDonald’s, for instance, self-service convenience depends on AI. A customer walks in, places their order on an interactive touch screen, and simply waits for it to be prepared. However, there is usually an AI that is responsible for recognizing the order, differentiating accidental touches from deliberate ones, and making sure the order goes to the kitchen staff in an orderly fashion.
Learning and Improving Constantly?
The ML aspect of AI is what really makes it so useful. ML or machine learning allows an AI model to learn and evolve based on the data it processes. So, as the AI processes more and more data, it gets faster and more accurate. In the restaurant industry, this makes a lot of sense. Given enough information and experience, an AI can improve its current output. And it can continue to do so till it reaches the most optimal output levels possible.
Decreasing the Need for Human Supervision?
Of course, since an AI can pretty much function without human supervision, the need for human workers overseeing it will go down. However, that does not mean supervisors like restaurant managers, head waiters, and head chefs will become obsolete. It merely means that the AI can take on specific tasks and carry them out independently. Human supervision will still remain necessary in other areas. From cleanliness to replacing meals to offering special treatments to customers having, say, a birthday, anniversary, or engagement dinner.