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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton
Updated on Nov 22nd, 2022
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Nala Robotics 2022: First Fully Automated Restaurant

Ajay Sunkara, CEO and founder of Nala Robotics, shares his insights with DeliveryRank on robotic cuisine, his vision of the future of the industry and describes their two incredible products; the Pizzaiola and Nala Chef. 

How and when did the Nala Robotics adventure begin? 

Nala Robotics’ adventure began five years ago with the idea of bringing food and technology together to fill a need within the culinary industry. At the time, there wasn't much technological advancement in food preparation. After much research and development, we introduced the world’s first fully automated robot chef that uses artificial intelligence to create and replicate an infinite number of dishes.

And about two years ago, we launched three company-owned restaurants under the Nala Restaurants Group name to demonstrate our industry-leading technology, such as One Mean Chicken, a fried chicken concept; Surya Tiffins, a South Indian eatery; and Thai 76, a fast-food Thai canteen.

DesiOwl is a new late-night takeout and delivery restaurant launched a couple of months ago through our Nala Marketplace platform that offers street-style, Indo-Chinese cuisine. Our marketplace allows anyone to open their own virtual restaurant in less than 24 hours and for less than $1,000. 

Biased you may be, but what are the pros and cons of robotic cuisine?

The pandemic really solidified the value proposition for robot chefs and virtual kitchens. And yes, of course, we are biased. However, an independent omnibus survey released this summer found that 60 percent of Americans say food cooked by a robot would be the same or better as a human. 

Survey respondents also cited their top five reasons for robot chefs, which are hygiene, consistency, speed, lower cost, and free from cross-contamination. Moreover, advancements in our technology are enabling consumers to access food dishes prepared by restaurants from all over the world delivered right to their doorsteps.

As far as cons go, there is a misperception that robots will take jobs away from people. This is not the case, however. The COVID-19 pandemic changed restaurant service, causing technology to become essential. Labor expenses are reduced, and staffing shortages are addressed, which is a win-win, enabling people to enjoy great-tasting food and restaurants to keep their doors open.

What can you tell us about your two products? 

Our newly introduced Pizzaiola is a fully automated, multi-cuisine, 7-axis robotic chef and kitchen within a 144-square-foot footprint that provides a complete solution for restauranteurs to easily customize a pizzeria-style eatery with expanded menu items such as pasta, burgers and wings, among other food options.

Pizzaiola can respond to spoken menu orders or operational commands in the kitchen. It can cook up to 50 customizable pizzas per hour, from Chicago to Neapolitan styles and everything in between, and offers five dough types, four varieties of sauces and 35 choices of toppings and cheeses.

Our Nala Chef is the world’s first AI-powered multi-cuisine chef that uses machine learning to cook infinite recipes with exact precision anytime, anywhere. With always-on vision and sensor processing capabilities, more than 1,200 parameters are checked every microsecond to ensure safety and productivity.

Customers order through a POS unit or online for pickup or delivery. Selected menu items are sent directly to the automated chef that fulfills orders by sourcing ingredients from a high-tech pantry. Employees plate and serve the food for in-house dining or package for pick-up or delivery. While some dishes take longer to make than others based on ingredients and type of cuisine, our robots usually can create 90 dishes per hour. We also offer meal-plan subscriptions and pre-packaged “grab and go” food options for all types of culinary preferences and lifestyles.

How do you navigate potential breakdowns and what do you offer in terms of after sales support?

Essentially our robots are always learning and at the same time always monitored to ensure any operational disruptions are avoided. At first, a team of engineers and culinary experts work directly with each restaurateur to replicate menus using Nala Robotics’ automated chefs, where dishes are prepared, taste-tested and refined before they are uploaded to the Nala platform. We also offer a variety of buy and lease options depending on each customer’s needs, while providing 24/7 customer sales support.

Do you believe that Nala Robotics has essentially revolutionized the culinary world?

Nala Robotics is revolutionizing the culinary industry by bringing the first fully autonomous chef to the kitchen. More and more consumers are becoming increasingly receptive to robot chefs. Moreover, the restaurant industry itself is in jeopardy with rising labor and food costs, not to mention a labor shortage.

Our technology is positively impacting both the people that eat the food and the people that make the food. We also believe Nala Marketplace is a big part of this new dynamic. Just think, anyone can open a cloud-based restaurant without infrastructure costs in less than 24 hours, even if they do not have a culinary background. This provides many opportunities for food entrepreneurs, plus brings even more culinary dishes to the marketplace.

How do you envisage the future of AI technology in the culinary industry and further afield? 

It’s inevitable that robots will become part of our daily lives, as they continue to fill job shortages and work at a more efficient and accurate rate. Robotics will continue to grow, as the demand for improvements in the service industry increases. If you look at the late nineties, we were all worried computers would steal our jobs. But tech can improve the quality of our lives.

That’s what robots are going to do for the culinary industry. AI is going to create more quality jobs and entrepreneurs through Nala's Marketplace. Home chefs, food influencers, even Michelin star chefs, anyone with a good recipe, can start their own ghost kitchen without having to spend thousands of dollars to build their restaurant. By simply coding their recipes into Nala's secure database, they can sell their dishes to customers at every Nala location, which will continue to grow.

Want to find out more about Nala Robotics, visit https://nalarobotics.com/ or follow on https://www.linkedin.com/company/nala-robotics-inc/

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