How can a smart restaurant be more "smart"?

  Robots cook and deliver meals without human involvement.

The smart restaurant in the main media center of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is full of technology, attracts athletes and journalists from all over the world to check in and take pictures.

In China, there are already many smart restaurants in various forms.

Why is a smart restaurant "smart"?

Is it a smart restaurant with robots?

This reporter will try to answer you.

  various forms

  Kung Pao Chicken, Dongpo Pork, Guangzhou Fried Rice... These are not the craftsmanship of any chef, but the "specialty dishes" of the catering robots in the Smart Restaurant at the Main Media Center of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Not only these, the robot can cook more than 200 kinds of dishes including Chinese and Western food.

How does the food taste?

"I'm so impressed with this restaurant, the food tastes great." Martinus Guezin, a security officer at the International Broadcasting Center, gave a thumbs up.

  There is no need for a waiter to deliver the food, but through the glass track at the top of the restaurant, the cooked dishes are "fallen from the sky" and delivered to the table of the dining staff.

When dining in a smart restaurant, there is no human involvement in ordering, cooking, and delivery.

As the ABC reports, the smart restaurant is "designed like something out of a sci-fi movie."

  In China, smart restaurants are not only found in Winter Olympic villages, but have "flyed into ordinary people's homes".

The reporter recently came to a Haidilao hotpot smart restaurant in Beijing to experience it.

Different from the smart restaurant in the Winter Olympic Village, although most of the tasks such as meal preparation and delivery are done by robots, the waiters are still seen shuttle back and forth, ordering, adding soup and other tasks.

The reporter also found in the back kitchen that some complex operations, such as slicing beef, also need to be done manually.

Here, robots do not completely replace human labor, but are more used to complete some simple and repetitive tasks.

An employee told reporters: "To maintain such a large storefront, the traditional Haidilao restaurant needs more than 40 staff members, and the smart restaurant only needs more than 20 people."

  Some old brands have also undergone new changes, and some stores have been transformed into smart restaurants as pilots.

For example, Shaxian Snacks and Hong Kong-style milk tea shop Lanfangyuan have cooperated with Ele.me Koubei to launch smart restaurants.

Ele.me Koubei smart restaurant does not use robots to cook and deliver food, but focuses on systematic transformation of the front hall and back kitchen.

Customers can self-order and check out through the mobile APP in advance, and then pick up the food through the smart food cabinet, without queuing.

"We use digital and intelligent solutions such as scanning code ordering, IoT smart devices, KDS kitchen display system, and back kitchen inspection and supervision to realize the digital and intelligent upgrade of traditional restaurants, helping merchants reduce costs and improve efficiency." Ali Local Yin Fei, head of the Smart Life Restaurant, told reporters.

  In addition to catering brands entering smart catering, some technology-based enterprises have also aimed at this huge blue ocean, using their own technological advantages to propose solutions for smart catering.

Relying on the experience accumulated in the field of artificial intelligence, iFLYTEK has launched intelligent applications such as artificial intelligence telephone robots, intelligent waiters, intelligent door greeters, and intelligent private rooms.

"At present, our technology is gradually being promoted to some well-known catering companies." said Chen Jun, deputy general manager of iFLYTEK Smart Hotel.

  The original intention of opening is different

  The variety of smart restaurants dazzles consumers.

What does a restaurant have to be "smart"?

Feng Enyuan, honorary vice president of the China Cuisine Association, told reporters that a smart restaurant is not just a form, but a new idea, which can be expressed in various forms.

As long as technology is used to solve the current problems in the catering industry, it can be a smart restaurant.

Simply setting a standard for smart restaurants will hinder the generation of new solutions and limit the development of smart restaurants.

  The forms of expression are different, because different smart restaurants have different original intentions and different problems to be solved.

Taking Haidilao as an example, meal service is its main selling point.

At present, robots cannot completely replace the precise and caring services that humans can provide.

The relevant person in charge of Haidilao Smart Restaurant said: "We pay more attention to how to free manpower from complicated and boring work, so as to pay attention to the diversified and personalized needs of customers."

  Ele.me Koubei is mainly aimed at the problems of low ordering efficiency but high error rate, insignificant marketing effect, and low repurchase rate in traditional stores. Therefore, the transformation focuses on providing convenience for customers to order and pick up meals.

"After the renovation, the time-honored stores have basically achieved doubled growth in operational efficiency and membership value," Yin Fei said.

  No matter what form of smart restaurant, the taste of the dishes will always come first.

The pursuit of Chinese food is full of color, flavor, and cooking techniques.

How to make robot chefs satisfy the stomachs of discerning eaters?

The relevant manufacturers have spent a lot of thought.

  When cooking, flipping the pot is an essential part.

But it is not easy to turn the pot, especially the "big turn". Even an experienced chef will turn the dish out of the pot if he is not careful.

The pan motion of the cooking robot is the research focus of the research and development team of the smart restaurant in the Winter Olympic Village.

The R&D team first used the simulation function to analyze, and simulated various effects of the pot in the computer software.

Subsequently, a large number of verification experiments were carried out, making the cooking robot turning the pot a reality, and realizing the uniform heating of the ingredients.

  Cooking Chinese food also has to pay attention to the control of the heat.

In the past, this mostly relied on the chef's experience and judgment, and there was no standard answer.

The researchers developed a dual-pressure fire control system and a fire vision module for this purpose. The former can precisely control the heat load of the atmospheric pressure burner, and the latter is based on machine vision technology, which can monitor the color saturation of food materials in real time.

In this way, the cooking robot is more like an experienced "chef", who can control the heat according to the situation and ensure the color and taste of the dishes.

  Shanghai Aican Robot Co., Ltd. is a digital kitchen appliance enterprise integrating R&D, production and sales. They focus on software and developed the "Weiba" cooking robot equipped with the Weiba intelligent control system.

"This is equivalent to adding a brain to a cooking robot." He Qing, chairman of Shanghai Aishan Robot, introduced to reporters, "Take the stir-frying action as an example, a robot with a 'brain' will not only do repetitive actions, but can Adjust the rate and magnitude of stir fry according to people's needs."

  Broad development space

  The development of smart restaurants has a process.

As early as a few years ago, the "Four Nos" restaurant known as "no waiters, no buyers, no chefs, and no cashiers" opened, which attracted a lot of attention for a while.

However, the development momentum of unmanned restaurants is not as strong as the merchants expected at the beginning, and news of bankruptcy and closure have been exposed one after another.

On a commenting app, many netizens commented on an unmanned restaurant owned by an e-commerce company as "average taste" and "gimmicks greater than reality". The current status of this restaurant is displayed as "closed".

  "This is because investors did not take into account the needs of consumers." Feng Enyuan said, "General consumers have emotional needs when dining out and want to receive services, but unmanned restaurants are inherently inadequate in this regard. This also reminds relevant practitioners. If the smart restaurant is simply understood as a restaurant that applies new technologies and ignores the needs of consumers, it will be difficult to survive in the highly competitive catering industry.”

  Love Food Robot has been working hard to meet the personalized needs of consumers and make robots more "smart".

According to He Qing, Love Food Robot has started to cooperate with famous chefs from all over the world. Through programmable recipe technology, it simulates the cooking techniques of chefs in different regions, reproduces local flavors, and meets the needs of local customers.

They also Internet-based recipes.

For example, a Yunnan chef developed a new dish by machine and uploaded the recipe to the cloud.

A Yunnan fellow in Beijing wants to eat his dish, just download the program and prepare the raw materials according to the corresponding requirements, and then he can eat exactly the same taste in Beijing.

The "Weiba" tea-frying robot also has a fine-tuning function, which can adjust the size of the heat and the amount of oil and salt according to different people's tastes.

  Feng Enyuan believes that promoting the construction of smart restaurants should not only focus on improving cooking and food delivery, but more importantly, realizing the digitization of the entire chain of the catering industry.

  Haidilao is currently gradually promoting the order management system to all stores, using digital means to assist in the procurement of ingredients.

There is a display screen in the back kitchen of Haidilao Smart Restaurant, which can clearly see the inventory of ingredients and the consumption of different ingredients.

"Big data helps us understand customers' preferences for different ingredients, which helps us formulate ingredient procurement plans to ensure fresh ingredients and reduce procurement costs," the staff said.

  Ele.me Koubei focuses on the digitization and dataization of the whole business process and management of "people, money, materials, and customers" in the transformation of the time-honored restaurant.

Yin Fei said: "We not only improve the store operations of time-honored brands, but also focus on online traffic operations, so that restaurant operators can make intelligent decisions."

  "There is still a lot of room for the development of smart restaurants, and the concept is still being extended. How to continue to apply the endless scientific and technological achievements to the catering industry, not only to meet the needs of consumers, but also to help practitioners reduce costs and increase efficiency, is the future The entire catering industry will always think about problem." Feng Enyuan said.

Zhao Hao

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