Robots can drive cars, perform experiments on Mars, and carry out delicate surgeries, but did you also know that they can spread a mean marinara? Zume Pizza, a food delivery startup, currently uses two robots to help make pizzas at its Mountain Valley, California location.
Zume Pizza was founded by Alex Garden, former president of Zynga Studios and a formal general manager at Microsoft's Xbox Live. In September 2015 he brought on Julia Collins as his chief executive officer and co-founder. Collins was previously the vice president and CEO of Harlem Jazz Enterprises.
The company had a rather secretive beginning. Last June, Garden started recruiting engineers under a pseudonym and building his trucks in an unmarked garage. In October Garden began working with a Swiss robot maker, ABB. They sold their first pizza to a customer, who was completely unaware of how their pizza was made, in April.
Zume Pizza continues to remain in an inconspicuous location. Their headquarters is an unmarked 8,000 square/foot concrete building. Inside the building there is an office space and a machine fabrication workshop. The kitchen is divided by glass between the robots and the humans.
How are the pizzas made? Marta, a robot who hangs from the ceiling, first ladles sauce onto the pizzas. According to Garden, “We created her to spread your sauce perfectly, but not too perfectly, so the pizza still looks like an artisan product.” Human employees then add cheese and toppings. The pizzas are placed in the oven by a five foot-tall robot named Bruno.
Zume Pizza wants to start cooking its pizzas in delivery trucks. Garden stated, “The robots will load all these individual ovens with different menu items. Then the truck will circle the neighborhood. At precisely 3 minutes and 15 seconds before arriving at the customer's location, the cloud commands the oven to turn on and-BOOM, the customer gets a fresh, out-the-oven pizza delivered to their door." The Santa Clara County Health Department is reviewing Zume's mobile food permit application now.
Other pizza companies are also experimenting with robots. Last month, Pizza Hut Asia partnered with Mastercard and Softbank to develop a robotic cashier, named Pepper. The company plans to deploy the robot at select locations. In April, Domino's Australia began testing an "autonomous delivery vehicle," named Dru. Dru can delivery pizzas up to five miles away.
Zume Pizza plans to one day dominate the $9.7 billion pizza delivery industry. Garden remarked, “We are going to be the Amazon of food”. Papa Johns, Domino's and Pizza Hut currently hold 58% of the United States pizza delivery market. For now, Zume is content to make headway in their “pizza” Mountain Valley.