The future of restaurants has arrived at Ocado’s headquarters. Karakuri’s Semblr, the world’s leading food service robot, is preparing fresh, personalised lunches for the 4,000 employees returning to the office. This is the world’s first installation of foodservice robotics in a large, high-volume catering environment and is a coordinated effort between Karakuri, a world-leading food robotics startup, Atalian Servest, a leading facilities management services company, and Ocado. Semblr has been designed to address the biggest challenges facing the foodservice industry – increasingly complex consumer diets, labour shortages and food waste.
This first deployment of Karakuri’s Semblr (formerly the DK-One) showcases the world’s most advanced food preparation robotics technology. Semblr pushes the boundaries of automation in commercial catering to give Ocado’s employees unparalleled choice in what goes into their meals. With 2,700 different combinations of the dishes on offer, customers can specify down to the gram what hot and cold items, proteins, sauces and fresh toppings are included. This is something that is simply not possible in traditional restaurants and commercial catering.
The implementation of Karakuri robotics, in partnership with Angel Hill Food Co, the specialist corporate catering division of Atalian Servest, showcases how the company’s technologies can be used to support restaurants and retail environments in a post-COVID world. The clean, contactless nature of robotics makes it ideal for supporting the hospitality industry as they adapt to new ways of working due to labour shortages and a more socially distanced way of working.
Semblr’s installation will provide Karakuri with critical data and learnings that will support future site installations and product developments.
Barney Wragg, CEO and co-founder of Karakuri, said, “Putting our robot in action in a busy dining room for the first time marks a huge milestone for everybody at Karakuri. We’ve come a long way in two years and our mission remains the same – to develop robots that support the hospitality and catering industry and improve the experience for both hospitality operators and customers. What we’ve delivered to Atalian Servest at Ocado is the most advanced food robotics technology in the world. We will be watching with anticipation and excitement how Ocado’s employees enjoy the food.”
Daniel Dickson, Chief Executive Officer at Atalian Servest, said, “Working with Karakuri to deliver a successful first installation of Semblr is part of our technology-led FM solution at Ocado’s Head Office. We’re now more excited than ever about the possibilities this revolutionary technology can bring to other parts of our business. Our Angel Hill chef team has been working with Karakuri to develop innovative, contemporary and healthy menus that offer a fantastic added dimension to the Ocado Workplace food offer we deliver.”
Stewart McGuire, Head of Corporate Development and Strategy at Ocado Group Plc added, “Ocado and Karakuri share a vision of automating key elements within the food value chain; this real-life installation is an exciting and long-anticipated moment. Karakuri is developing systems that sit at the intersection of food, people and technology, and we are delighted to help make their vision a reality. As demonstrated by us opening up our canteen, our investment goes beyond financial support, and this ‘living lab’ gives Karakuri a way for them to perform stress-tests in a production environment. Plus, we get to give our staff a sneak peek at the potential future of food service.”
Karakuri’s Semblr is the world’s first robotic solution for high throughput, fast turnaround, completely personalised, portion-controlled, food service. It uses a range of robotic technologies to handle the largest range of foods, enabling user-selectable portions of each ingredient to be served on plates, bowls or dishes in a way that improves on human service.
Ocado’s workforce will be able to customise and place their orders and pre-orders from their phone. The robot will individually prepare each meal, selecting from 17 hot or cold ingredients that are uniquely weighed to match the customer order. Semblr prepares multiple orders at the same time, ensuring it meets the demand of the busiest canteens and restaurants.
The work to trial Karakuri’s machine in Ocado follows the online supermarket taking a minority stake in the tech company in May 2019.