Robots and Food, the Perfect Pair? - Clever Marketing
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Some critics have argued that using robot chefs during a major economic downturn when unemployment rates are soaring is not only downright ludicrous, but very irresponsible. Truth be told, the likelihood of this becoming the norm in kitchens in Japan (and abroad) is slim to none. First of all, robots can't taste, so the tasks they are programmed to perform in the kitchen are very limited. Not only that, at $100,000 a pair, the cost of robots is completely out of the question and uneconomical for restaurants who could easily hire a cook for a fraction of the price.
With many of these robots cooking in kitchens, you'll find that it's more of a marketing tool than anything else. Nagaya, owner of the ramen restaurant, doubles as president of the robotics company Aisei, which made the ramen-making robots. Seeing as how it's one of the most popular food items in Japan, Nagaya thought employing his robots would be a good publicity stunt that would lead to an increase in popularity and interest for his company.
The robot mentioned earlier with the "freakishly realistic hand" has a freakishly realistic hand for a reason. Mikio Shimizu's company, the Kyoto-based Squse where he is president, made the hand as a marketing device; he hopes to become the world's largest maker of functional, realistic, prosthetic hands.
The list only goes on from there. Narito Hosomi, president of the Osaka-based company Toyo Riki, is responsible for the manufacturing of the robots that make the savory pancakes and octopus balls. At $200,000 for each robot, Hosomi knows they're too expensive for commercial kitchens, which is why it's his intention to use the robots for production purposes in large factories.
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