The robot chef serves meals at Naperville Food Court

Robot chefs are now more than just science fiction here in Naperville. Nala Robotics has created what it says is the first multi-kitchen robot kitchen in the world, and it is open for business at the Mall of India food court, at 776 South Route 59.

Robotic restaurant experience

“It’s fully automated, so there are no chefs involved,” said Nala Robotics co-founder Ajay Sunkara. “The robot actually has to cook the food so that it is non-contact and it is always consistent.”

Employees greet customers and take orders, which are sent directly to the artificial intelligence-powered robot chef. It then retrieves the recipe from a database of millions, retrieves ingredients from a high-tech pantry and cooks. When they are done, the employees prepare and serve the food.

The robot chef can make any number of dishes, as additions are as simple as adding new recipes to the database.

For now, the robot is cooking for two restaurants: One Mean Chicken for wings and fried chicken and Surya Tiffins, which serves South Indian breakfast food. A third restaurant, Thai76, will open next week to serve Thai dishes.

Virtual restaurants

Soon there will also be Nala Marketplace, a virtual restaurant concept with an open platform, where everyone can upload recipes and make their own virtual menu.

“Someone who is a really good chef or has a passion for the culinary industry, they do not have to spend thousands of dollars on building their own restaurant,” Sunkara said. “They can use Nala’s technology, Nala’s infrastructure, to build a virtual restaurant out of it and start serving the community.”

Looking To The Future

Sunkara said this technology solves problems during the pandemic, such as labor shortages and reduces labor costs by about 60 to 70%. It also has hygienic benefits, with less human contact with food before it hits the table. And with the power of AI, it’s going to be exciting to see how far this technology can go.

“The future of that is that they will actually be able to make menus on their own,” Sunkara said. “Artificial intelligence will actually create menus that we humans have not thought of.”

A hot new concept for the restaurants of the future.

It reports Casey Flanagan from Naperville News 17.

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