The Future

Silicon Valley Start-Up Working to Create a World Where All Pizza Is Cooked by Robots

A former executive at Zynga — the company responsible for FarmVille — says he’s now fixed his “disruptive” gaze on the outdated pizza-business model. The future of pie delivery, argues Valley insider Alex Garden, is being pioneered by robots at his Zume Pizza, and Bloomberg got a look inside the new company. The process seems to involve a team of enormous and very expensive-looking robots preparing pies that then get baked by a giant bank of ovens en route to customers.

One of the robots (her name is Marta) expertly spreads sauce “perfectly but not too perfectly, so it looks just like an artisan product.” Another, named Bruno, then “gently, without disturbing it,” moves the pizza into an 850-degree oven to prebake. Traditional humans are still required for tasks like sprinkling cheese, driving the delivery truck, and walking sealed boxes to customers’ doors, but these seem like minor obstacles, really. After all, even Domino’s has robots that warm pies on the road, and military-grade robots that vigilantly hunt down customers using GPS. Pizza seems the ripest for full automation within fast food, so it’s safe to assume the whole industry is steadily moving toward the all-robot business model.

Right now, Zume’s pies only appear to be available in Mountain View (of course), but Garden warns his company is targeting massive chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut, which he says he’ll be able to dethrone by offering “the best-tasting pizza in the country delivered in 15 minutes for the same price as any of the other chains.”

As Bloomberg points out, there’s “a lot of profit in robot-made pizza.” Just envision one of the major pizza franchises but with “virtually no” humans, Garden calmly instructs everyone. “It would be like Domino’s without the labor component. You can start to see how incredibly profitable that can be.”

[Bloomberg]

Pizza Robots Are Almost a Reality