Piestro is changing the future of pizza making with their sleek and intuitive automated robots! Check out what these high-tech machines look like and how they work.

Automation in the Restaurant Business

Craving pizza? Hop over to the new kiosk installed in your neighborhood. Press a button on the side of the kiosk, and immediately robotic tentacles come to life inside it, kneading the dough, squirting the sauce, and arranging the toppings.

The pie moves on rotating disks, and once the pizza is ready, it is neatly packaged and ejected through a vent at the bottom of the vending machine. Three minutes is all the robots take to bake your pizza. Not carrying cash or a card? No problem. Pay by having your face scanned.

Consider another scenario. You're strolling down the street when you're startled by a box on wheels rolling past you. You follow the diminutive contraption and watch as it comes to a halt in front of a house. A man walks out, and as he bends over the 'toy car', a lid opens, and the man pulls out a parcel containing his food. Pretty cool, isn't it?

Indeed, the food industry is moving closer and closer to a sci-fi reality, with technology venturing into every corner of food service. We are witnessing at the moment a large-scale digitization of food production, with robots, 3D food printing, and digital supply chains becoming more and more prevalent. Now technology is shaping food delivery too. The outbreak of the Covid pandemic and its disastrous effects on the food industry have quickened a trend that had already begun.

Restaurants did use cutting-edge technology to deliver food before the pandemic, but it was more of an 'add-on' that could make the dining experience convenient. In a 2019 study for the National Restaurant Association (NRA), management consulting firm Technomic found that curb-side pickup, third-party delivery, ordering through restaurant mobile apps, and drive-thrus did exist. Digital payment methods were also in use.

However, the shift from the physical to the digital, and the adoption of Industry 4.0 methods along the entire food value chain became absolutely necessary in the wake of Covid. The focus was on minimizing contact and staying within a sanitized space to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Going tech forward was the only way that restaurants could avoid being sucked into the Covid black hole.

How Robots Improve Food Prep and Delivery

Robots can be incorporated throughout the food value chain to increase the scale, consistency, and efficiency of food production. They can help eateries address the crucial issue of labor shortage, both in the kitchen and in food delivery. Moreover, with robots handling routine tasks, restaurant employees can be free to focus on customer service.

Kitchen robots prepare food much faster than humans. This means higher productivity and therefore, bigger revenues for restaurants. Kitchen robots may have dramatic mechanical arms, or be more modest-looking, with a hot plate, mixing bowl, refrigerator drawer, and a touchscreen that may be used to give commands. Robots, therefore, allow humans to be 'pilots' guiding the cooking process, rather than 'workers' chopping vegetables, and huffing and puffing over a stove.

Robots powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can be trained to learn thousands of recipes. Learning can happen by watching YouTube videos as well. In fact, robots can grasp patterns and formulae extremely well.

By dispensing with the need to hire a posse of line cooks, robots let restaurants overcome the problem of labor shortage. In fact, according to a 2021 NRA report, four out of five restaurant operators are troubled by understaffing. Robots also allow restaurants to drive down labor costs, which constitute the biggest dollar outgo for these businesses.

The money thus saved on labor can be redirected to initiatives for business expansion or improving product quality. For a restaurant like Chipotle, kitchen robots are not so much about replacing employees, as freeing them up to do tasks that are more impactful, such as serving customers and undertaking culinary tests.

Delivery robots enhance convenience and safety for customers. These autonomous or remote-controlled machines deliver packages right to customers' doorsteps. In doing so, they use sidewalks, which means no traffic jams on the road. These robots are powered by electricity and bring down the carbon footprint resulting from food delivery by cars and vans. They also help cut down the expenditure on gasoline. Delivery robots are, in fact, generally more economical. After all, why should you use two-tonne vehicles to carry two-pound parcels?

Delivery robots have built-in safety mechanisms and do away with situations where delivery drivers are rushing to meet deadlines, thereby reducing the chance of accidents on the road.

Furthermore, delivery by robots avoids contact between restaurant employees and customers, and so the scope of infection is reduced.

Case Studies: How Kitchen Robots Helped These Businesses

The use of robots can make a restaurant or Commercial Kitchen considerably efficient. Robots have also allowed businesses to expand operations even as the pandemic resulted in labor scarcity.

Frontline brands like Jack in the Box, Chipotle, and White Castle brought in robots to assist with food preparation, while Chili's introduced a robotic server.

The robots used by Jack in the Box are Flippy 2 and Sippy. While the former took charge of the frying section at the fast food restaurant, the latter handled drinks.

The Flippy 2 model, introduced by the fast food establishment in collaboration with Miso Robotics, comes with over 120 configurations and can achieve more than twice the number of food preparation duties as its previous version. The AI vision of Flippy 2 lets it autonomously recognize and handle food items and lowers the likelihood of injuries resulting from hot oil spills.

The robotic server deployed by Chili's is named Rita. Introduced in partnership with Bear Robotics, Rita has been envisaged as a 'hostess', who will usher guests to their seats, carry food to guest tables, and even serenade them on the occasion of their birthday. This highly innovative Restaurant Technology seeks to relieve the stress of the restaurant staff and ensure that customers would keep coming back for a unique experience.

Casual dining chain and sports bar Buffalo Wild Wings has been testing a robotic 'chef' to cook wings, while fast-casual chain The Halal Guys has deployed a robot mixologist (Botrista's Drinkbot) that mixes drinks in 20 seconds flat!

Another example of a robot making restaurant management efficient is Servi. This robot autonomously serves meals and helps waiters carry platters. Owing to its small size, it can maneuver through narrow and packed areas easily, while cameras and sensors enable it to stop and change direction when it comes across obstacles.

Robots can help with sanitization, cleaning, cold and hot food storage, in addition to food preparation, as exemplified by ROBOEATZ's ARK 03. They can even order supplies.

A mention has also to be made of the pizza-making robot RoDyMan. It was conceptualized as a bot having two arms, a torso, 3D vision, and a sensorized head that could make complex movements like the ones humans make everyday. It learned the pizza-making from ace pizza consultant Enzo Coccia, who ran through the pizza-making process while being attached to sensors, allowing the robot to emulate him.

Also take note of Spyce, the world's first eatery with a robotic kitchen, which opened its first branch in Boston in 2018.

How Piestro’s Pizza-Making Robots Work

California-based food automation startup Piestro has been working on its concept of a robotic pizza vending machine that makes delicious, artisanal pizzas in the blink of an eye. Piestro's machine is set to go commercial in 2023.

According to Piestro CEO Massimo De Marco, the dough and other ingredients are replenished every morning so that the automated pizzeria works without a hitch. Remote monitoring of the pizza-making and vending machines ensures that when the upper limit of 90 pizzas a day is met, the company's employees will top up the machine with more ingredients.

Piestro's pizza machine consists of a touchscreen that allows customers to choose their toppings, the way they do at a self-service kiosk. Customized recipes can be uploaded to the machine, and contactless dispensing ensures that there are minimum contamination points. Customers can place orders by pressing a button on the side of the machine. They can also order through Piestro's app or third-party delivery apps. A large window lets customers watch as the pizzas are baked.

After the order is placed, a robotic arm pulls the dough up and carries it to an area that is temperature-controlled. Here the dough is pressed to carve out a pie measuring 12 inches. Then the mozzarella and tomatoes are added. After that, the robot moves the pie to a dispenser so that it can be topped with sausage and vegetables. A maximum of five ingredients can be added to the pie as of now, though it could soon be eight, if the company succeeds in its research and development. Talk about a Large Topping! The company is also working to add a distribution carousel.

After that, a 'translator' takes the pie downstream and calculates the cooking time on the basis of the humidity and the ingredients involved. The system works with a heat sensor below and an impinger above. After the pizza is done, it is transferred from the oven on a conveyor belt, into a pizza box. The box is then pushed out to be collected.

According to De Marco, Piestro's robotic pizza maker can prepare two pizzas simultaneously. Ingredients and recipes can be tailored according to the demands of the customer, with the help of AI.

Customers can pay in a convenient, safe, and easy way through facial recognition technology on-site. They can also pay through Piestro's app, when they pre-order pizzas for pickup.

Piestro’s Robots Deliver Too

The pizza produced by the Piestro machine can be retrieved not just by the customers or delivery agents, but also by bots that deliver food. This adds another dimension to Piestro's business model.

Piestro struck an agreement with the Colombian robot delivery startup Kiwibot. The company, which was founded in 2017, has 200 robots serving 10 US college campuses already and aims to expand its fleet to 1,200 covering 50 campuses by the end-2022.

Each Kiwibot is equipped with sensors and a camera to identify nearby objects and help it navigate around obstacles. Although humans control them remotely, the company eventually wants to make these robots totally autonomous.

De Marco pointed out that the Piestro pizza machines will be linked to the Kiwibots' loading mechanism. This will let the bots pick up the pizza parcels directly for delivery. Customers ordering through apps can choose their pizza designs.

After the order is registered with Kiwibot, a mechanized delivery agent is sent to Piestro's pizzeria. The pizzas made through automation are timed in such a way that they are dispensed as close as possible to the arrival of the Kiwibot. This ensures that the pizzas are highly fresh. The bot then collects the pizza package and rolls along happily, delivering pizzas to customers. The entire process, from pizza-making to delivery, involves no human-to-human contact and is therefore highly safe.

Customers pay separately for Kiwibot deliveries. The fee is ultimately charged back to the restaurant operator. De Marco noted that while conventional delivery services charge operators up to 30%, Kiwibot deliveries are considerably cheaper.

However, not just Kiwibot, Piestro has partnered with Serve Robotics for contactless, end-to-end pizza delivery by autonomous sidewalk robots.

The scheduling system of Piestro alerts Serve's fleet as soon as an order is placed, following which the robot closest to the Piestro pod picks the pizza up.

Serve robots can hold a maximum of four pizza parcels from Piestro, and take less than 15 minutes to complete each delivery. Customers can use a secure passcode to collect their parcels.

Advantages of Piestro’s Pizza Robots

Piestro claims that its kitchen robot can get a pizza baked in three minutes! This whirlwind service lets the pizzeria produce more and serve more customers, which coupled with delivery by sidewalk robots, helps to expand Piestro's takeout reach.

Piestro units can be installed in areas that normally see high customer demand, like apartment lobbies and college dormitories. These units can be placed at airports too, letting busy flyers catch a quick bite.

According to Piestro's fundraising initiative on crowdfunding platform StartEngine, every unit is nearly as big as two ordinary vending machines, and is totally autonomous, needing no human intervention. Robots can undertake pizza-making from start to finish, dispense food, and deliver parcels too. An average pizza store, on the other hand, requires more than 10 employees.

This ensures that the entire process is genuinely contactless and safe, and one that cuts down heavily on labor costs. According to the Piestro website, robots allow the pizzeria to limit labor costs to 10% of sales, resulting in a handsome 49% profit margin. Traditional pizza stores, on the contrary, are hobbled by labor costs going up to 30% of sales, which when added to real estate, food, and miscellaneous expenses gives them a slender profit margin of 16%.

According to De Marco, while it takes $700,000 to $1 million to start a small conventional pizza store, a Piestro unit could be opened at just $60,000.

One of the best parts of Piestro's units is that since they are largely autonomous and don't need human guidance, they can stay open every day, and round the clock. All the restaurant employees need to do is undertake machine maintenance and stock maintenance.

The window on the Piestro pods allows customers to watch the entire pizza-making process themselves. This assures customers who hate to compromise on food safety and food quality. Regular sanitization of the pizzeria adds another layer of safety.


The Piestro robotic pizza-maker, along with delivery bots prove what Deloitte found in a 2021 study- the restaurant of the future has come early. Piestro is not just building a pizza vending machine; it's an automated pizzeria, said Piestro boss De Marco.

The business claims that it is adapting to shifting consumer dining habits as a result of the pandemic, with consumers spending more time cocooned in their homes and the demand for takeout and Food Delivery increasing by leaps and bounds. Piestro's quick service, 24X7 operation, contactless interface, integration with apps, and pay-by-face facility, could make it the next big thing in food technology.

According to a 2020 report by The Robot Report, Piestro had already made arrangements for over $150,000 through crowdfunding and was aiming to raise $2 million.

The robot kitchen market, which was worth $1.7 billion in 2020 is set to touch $4.4 billion by 2028, showing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.6% over the period between 2021 and 2028, market research and business intelligence agency Verified Market Research noted.

The worldwide delivery robot market is set for a nearly ten-fold growth in 10 years. According to business intelligence and market research firm Allied Market Research, the market, which in 2020, was worth $3.53 billion, is expected to hit $30.05 billion in 2030. This translates to a CAGR of 24.5% over the period between 2021 and 2030.

Against this backdrop, Piestro's pizza-making robots and delivery systems offer exciting new opportunities for businesses and customers alike.