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Seattle startup Picnic intros pizza-making robot at CES

(AP Photo/John Locher)

The whole “30 minutes or it’s free” policy isn’t quite in use at many pizza places anymore, but they’d surely have an easier making that time limit if this robot pizza-maker were employed. It can churn out 300 individualized 12-inch pizzas in a hour.

“There hasn’t been a lot of innovation with pizza in the last few hundred years. It was mostly a bread thing for a lot of time, then they added sauce and then we basically went straight to stuffed crust pizza,” joked KIRO Nights co-host Chason Gordon, filling in for Gee Scott.

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Seattle startup Picnic introduced its pizza-making robot that’s intended to automate restaurant kitchens that face labor shortages, as well as help keep up in delivery and carry-out orders, reports GeekWire.

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But the way the machine works shows that while it certainly could displace jobs, the human touch is still very much required for the machine to function. It has a vision system that reads the size and shape of the dough, and places the toppings and sauce on using a conveyor belt, but the dough and sauce must be made by actual human beings, who also have to put the pizza in the oven.

So the pizza-making robot is really good at making the easiest part of the pizza. That much-anticipated robot takeover may yet be a long way off.

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Picnic raised upwards of $5 million in seed money in November, and the robot was first tested by Centerplate, a caterer at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. It also recently made an appearance on James Corden’s Late Late Show, and has gone viral on social media.

Regardless, we may be using robots for the wrong part of the pizza-making process.

“We don’t need a robot to make pizzas, we need a robot to order pizzas for a group of friends. Everyone has different tastes. How many times were you at a party and all that’s left is that one stupid vegetarian pizza that you ordered for Jeff, who’s annoying and only had two slices?” Gordon asked.

“You need an algorithm to put in everyone’s tastes and individual characteristics, and then it knows what to order. So everyone is satisfied, not a pizza slice left.”

Listen to KIRO Nights with Gee Scott and Aaron Mason weekdays from 7-10 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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