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Majority of Americans Want to Try Food Cooked by Robots, Survey Says

Hygiene and Consistency Top Expected Dining Benefits;
Younger Adults Hold More Favorable Views

Arlington Heights, Ill., May 18, 2022 – Fifty-eight percent of Americans have either eaten food cooked by a robot or would be interested in doing so, the latest example of changing attitudes regarding artificial intelligence outside everyday life, according to results from a national Xcelerant omnibus survey conducted on behalf of Nala Robotics, an AI technology company revolutionizing the culinary industry.

"It's encouraging such wide swaths of Americans are interested in the benefits of culinary automation," said Ajay Sunkara, cofounder and CEO, Nala Robotics, which will be demonstrating its autonomous robots at this year’s National Restaurant Association Show (Booth # 9402) at McCormick Place in Chicago from May 21-24. "Consumers are realizing that robots improve quality and food safety, while restaurants can increase productivity, lower costs and operate a kitchen anytime, anywhere."

Dining Experience Benefits

A majority of Americans (60 percent) say food cooked by a robot would be the same or better as a human, according to the survey. Respondents identified several other benefits at restaurants using robot chefs – some tied to pandemic-led precautions, others highlighting improvements in preparation and production. The top perceived dining benefits include:

  • Hygiene (contactless, human touch-free food handling) 58 percent
  • Consistency (no missing ingredients, dishes prepared as intended) 56 percent
  • Speed (food arrives quickly) 54 percent
  • Cost (less restaurant operational costs mean lower priced dishes) 45 percent
  • Cross-contamination (avoids spread of harmful bacteria and allergy-causing foods) 32 percent

Industry Wide Adoption

Respondents identified several examples of how robots could help combat systemic challenges in the restaurant industry, which has been decimated amid the pandemic and slower to recover than other sectors. Forty-two percent of survey respondents say robots help fill staffing shortages and 36 percent note they improve productivity. The survey also revealed that a vast majority of Americans (70 percent) believe robots will have either a positive or neutral effect on the future of the restaurant industry. As awareness grows, so does consumer sentiment. Nearly seven out of 10 (69 percent) Americans who are aware of robots in restaurants have either eaten food cooked by a robot or are interested in doing so. Among that same cohort, 68 percent of respondents indicated food cooked by a robot would be better or comparable to food cooked by a human.

Restaurant automaton goes well beyond robots that cook food. Americans surveyed ranked several other tasks acceptable for robots:

  • Dishwasher (59 percent)
  • Cashier (40 percent)
  • Server/waiter (32 percent)
  • Delivery/courier (29 percent)
  • Host/hostess (27 percent)

“Artificial intelligence is inevitable and will continue to revolutionize the way restaurants operate, especially as awareness and consumer education grows,” added Sunkara. “Our survey reveals there are huge benefits and opportunities when it comes to robot automation in the culinary industry. We have seen our own fully automated chefs reduce labor costs by as much as 60 percent, helping address the ongoing staffing shortages affecting the food and hospitality sectors across the country.”

A Digital Divide

While a majority of respondents indicated interest in eating food cooked by a robot (52 percent), younger adults signaled a much stronger desire. Interest peaked among Millennials (62 percent), followed by Gen Z (58 percent) and Gen X (54 percent). Baby Boomers were among the most resistant, with only 39 percent interested in trying food cooked by a robot.

About the Survey

The Xcelerant omnibus survey was conducted from May 5 to May 6, 2022 by Directions Research among a demographically balanced nationally representative sample of 1,042 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older, weighted by age, gender, geographic region, race and education. Generations defined as: Generation Z (ages 18-25), Millennials (ages 26-41), Generation X (ages 42-57) and Baby Boomers (ages 58-76).

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Nala Robotics Introduces Nala Marketplace, Enabling Anyone to Launch a Fully Operational, Cloud-based Restaurant in Less Than 24 Hours

Restaurant-as-a-Service Platform Creates Business Opportunities for Aspiring Chefs, as well as Established Restaurants and Chains

Arlington Heights, Ill., March 1, 2022 – Nala Robotics, an AI technology company revolutionizing the culinary industry, today launched Nala Marketplace, a network of fully customizable robotic chefs that allows anyone, from aspiring restaurateurs to fast-food chains to easily open a proprietary cloud-based kitchen in less than 24 hours.

“Our multi-cuisine robotic chefs are now available to anyone with a culinary passion who aspires to launch their own virtual restaurant or food brand,” said Ajay Sunkara, cofounder and CEO, Nala Robotics. “Whether it’s an at-home chef who wants to start a food delivery business or a restaurant chain looking to enter a new market, our AI chefs can cook nearly any type of ethnic food, including Chinese, Thai, Italian, Indian, Mexican, Portuguese, as well as popular American food items such as burgers, salads, soups and more.”

Nala Robotics recently introduced the world’s first fully automated multi-cuisine chef, a customizable robot that uses machine learning to cook infinite recipes replicated with exact precision anytime, anywhere. The technology is currently in use at three restaurants located in Naperville, Ill.

Marketplace customers upload recipes and menu items to Nala Robotics’ highly secure database, while creating a virtual storefront. Orders are placed through a website or online food ordering and delivery platform and subsequently sent to the automated chef where they are fulfilled by sourcing ingredients from a high-tech pantry, picked up and/or delivered to intended customers. The first Nala Marketplace location opened last month in Naperville, Ill. The company plans to open additional cloud-based kitchens in local markets across the country.

“Nala Marketplace is the perfect platform for anyone starting their own restaurant,” said Michael Chintamaneni, owner of Illinois-based DesiOwl, a new late-night takeout and delivery restaurant launched through Nala Marketplace that offers street-style, Indo-Chinese cuisine. “Startup costs were minimal and exponentially lower than it would cost to open a traditional restaurant. The entire setup cost less than a thousand dollars. I also don’t have to worry about staffing, which is ideal given the culinary industry’s tight labor market. It seemed too good to be true, but I was able to open my own restaurant in 24 hours and now our food is available to all customers throughout Naperville and Aurora.”

Nala Robotics provides a full, customizable turnkey solution for aspiring cloud-based kitchens, from restaurant setup to launch. A team of engineers and culinary experts work directly with each restaurateur to replicate menus using Nala Robotics’ automated chefs, where dishes are prepared, taste tested and refined before they are uploaded to the Nala Marketplace platform. Customers pay a $250 enrollment fee per location, plus a monthly licensing fee based on order volume. A percentage of sales for each restaurant goes to Nala Robotics.

“Our Nala Marketplace makes it possible for anyone to own and operate a cloud kitchen without any of the infrastructure and labor costs,” added Sunkara. “Labor expenses are reduced by as much as 60 percent, which also addresses staffing shortages throughout the food and hospitality industry. The best part is that consumers will have access to consistent, authentic and innovative dishes, whether it’s a proven family recipe passed down from generations or a totally new food concept. The possibilities are endless.”

About Nala Robotics

Nala Robotics is an AI technology company that is disrupting the culinary industry. Its innovations include the world’s first fully automated multi-cuisine chef, a customizable robot that uses machine learning to cook infinite recipes replicated with exact precision anytime, anywhere. The company is successfully demonstrating its technology at three company-owned restaurants in Naperville, Ill. under the Nala Restaurants Group name. These include: One Mean Chicken, a fried chicken concept; Surya Tiffins, a South Indian eatery; and Thai 76, a fast-food Thai canteen. The company also offers meal-plan subscriptions and pre-packaged “grab and go” food options at these restaurant locations. Based in Arlington Heights, Ill., Nala Robotics has offices in California, India and Ukraine. For more information, follow the company on LinkedIn and Twitter @nalarobotics.

Media Contacts:

George Medici/Roger Pondel
PondelWilkinson Inc.