Can Fast Food Restaurants Get Any Faster? Four MIT Students Are Making It Happen


Recently, thanks to four MIT engineering students- Kale Rogers, Michael Farid, Braden Knight, and Luke Schlueter who were funded by the acclaimed French chef, Daniel Boulud, the fast food industry is getting introduced to what can be called ‘disruptive innovation’ on steroids. Okay maybe that was overkill, but let’s break it down. It’s not unusual to request your meal from an app, customize your order on a food vendor’s website or grab a quick meal at a drive-through restaurant.

The fast-food industry goes through some form of metamorphosis every few years to ensure customers are showered with convenience. However, this invention situated at Spyce restaurant in Boston is a perfect blend of hospitality and innovation.

In their bid to provide affordable delicious meals in less than 5 minutes, the MIT students created a fully automated kitchen (think of a robot chef). The menu has something for everyone- vegetarians, pescatarians, Paleo diet, Ketogenic diet, Mediterranean diet, Atkins diet…it might be a nightmare trying to list everyone, but the point is diversity (in terms of food) is celebrated at the restaurant.

Customers are required to order meals from a touchscreen. The process encourages guests to customize ingredients and quantity of the meal. Once that’s done, the robot cooks and dispenses the food on a plate. The automated mini restaurant also features a refrigerator and dishwater- so the pot cleans itself.

Plus, there’s still more good news, especially for the “fitfam” club. If your mantra is “all calories aren’t equal” then it will excite you to know the kitchen uses sensors to track food temperature and quality. Meaning those water-soluble vitamins won’t vanish, vegetables won’t get discoloured and the grains won’t end up getting mushy.

Now before you go round town screaming “the robots are taking over”. The management at Spyce restaurant stressed the fact that a robotic kitchen is simply a tool. The robot does the stressful “dirty” work, while the commissary team preps the fresh ingredients and the kitchen staff focus on garnishing the dishes presented to customers. Waiters are also employed to guide customers through the ordering process.

So it’s a cool machine, but does this improve customer service?

Word on the “streets” of the fast food industry is that speed is the new king. People living in busy cities who need to grab a quick bite will be loyal to the fastest provider. The restaurant encourages a blissful union of robots and humans to keep customers intrigued and delighted.

If the idea of food prepared by a robot fascinates you, then feel free to check out the invention at the Spyce restaurant, situated at 241 Washington Street in Boston’s Downtown Crossing in the United States. But if you’re like most of us, check out what all the fuss is about on YouTube.