Interview: Robot Restaurant Spyce's Co-Founder

my name is Brady Knights I'm will co-founders of spicy and also the lead electrical engineer cool so it was you and your co-founders that started this restaurant and how did the idea come about yeah so it started because we were hungry college students the typical you know trying to get a good meal without breaking the bank didn't have a whole lot of time to make your own food either so we thought you know being engineers let's build a way to solve that problem we knew that wasn't just problem we had or from that many of the college students had and many other people across the cross United States had so we thought this was a fun way of getting people healthy delicious meals at an affordable price point now when did this start how long ago did you start working on this problem yeah so it started out as just kind of a project that was a winter project at school sort of you know let's see if we can build a robot that cooks food and then that turned into a summer project and it started three and a half years ago in 2015 so January 2015 that's it yeah yeah you would you went from an idea to a restaurant in three years yeah and a year and half that we were still in school so it's kind of like a side projects it's only been two years full-time that we were working on this how many people were working on the actual robots was it just you and your friends first it was just myself fluke kale and Michael just the four of us and that was you know we were doing that basically developing designing this entire robot so just the four of us then we brought in a few other engineers sort of a half a year to a year into when we were full-time now how does it feel to go from you know prototypes and I'm sure things with wires sticking out to a restaurant that looks beautiful yeah well if you saw some the early prototypes they were a bit rough so every time I even go you know from our lab to this this robot that we have in the restaurant here it sort of catched me in like Oh Alec that's really cool it's like we made a national professional product which is which is awesome and you know coming coming just from school to doing this it's really exciting and definitely something that we're proud of what were some of the first ideas that you had that maybe didn't make it into the restaurant the very first robot that we use you know it was a different design it was much smaller actually a circular design we have here we're actually using a flame to cook the meal as opposed to what we have is an induction now the induction just makes a lot more sense it's you know more energy efficient it's it's as faster heating the wok and so we've we've always been under the so design philosophy of you know how do we simplify things how do we make things more efficient how do we make it so that the robot that we have in the restaurant is gonna work work well every single time so we sort of went from the more you know outlandish ideas that something that's more refined that's more more streamlined that's more professional tell me about failure during your process I mean I'm assuming that you're working with really complicated stuff and occasionally you failed quote-unquote what did that lead to learning yeah so one of the things that we were working on initially you know my module is the runner that's that orange box they might sit behind us sort of zipping back and forth with flip cups that sort of flip food forward into the into the walks one of the things that you know I developed first before I made the runner was actually a food catapult because we didn't quite have the food motion profile of the cups down and so that was something we had you know work on over and over again there's a lot of sort of jokes about us making a food fighting robot as opposed to actually a food cooking robot so if that had gone another way this could have been just like we would be watching a food fight oh yeah you know I'm sure you know maybe in the future we'll do a food fling mode or something fun like that but well yeah we had to make sure that you know we refines the robot as much as we could so that it works well it's game time now walk me through this so there's a bunch of different automated processes here right so tell me about one of them I'm gonna go with the runner since I was a module that I design the runner that's the it's an orange box with some some cups on it but zips back and forth so it runs and grabs you ingredients and comes back and and flips into the walk and basically what its job is is it goes underneath one of the hoppers that we have on the back reflects rice or chicken or kale or some sort of vegetable mixture grabs that and then finds a wok that's that's that temperature and then flings or flips that food into the wok making sure that the walks get started so that we can keep picking meals all the time and then also it would add and I got either some water or some like Thai Indian sauce and that's that oak with the orange boxes for that's our sauce portion err so it's gonna put some sauce into the wok and help add that sauce that water that flavour to to the cooking process so then we've got the automated walks tell me about those so those walks those are sort of like the eye catching catching part of the robotics to the other robot and those walks do is they eat with induction so they're gonna constantly turn and there's an induction coil actually on this side so typically if you have a connection stovetop and that dish goes on the bottom you put your induction pile on it and then that heats up the water or whatever you're cooking with so reductions on the side and the wok gets up to like 400 degrees 500 degrees Fahrenheit and it's going to give it up and once the pivots up that means that the runner can now flip the food into the wok once it's done getting all the food it's gonna pivot back to the side again and then tumble for about two-and-a-half minutes and it's got to fit in there to sort of break up the food and make sure that all the ingredients inside the wok gets a constant even sear once a around to enough minutes is up the wok is going to tell the bowl movers that hey I need a bolt boom Weaver's gonna swing backward the walk will then pivot forward plate that meal full movers gonna get other way and then the walk will go all the way upside down and you'll see you later and there's some steam coming on the wok that's actually a water jet that's spraying the inside surface of the wok so it gets cleaned out for the next meal so when in this process you do decide that you would also have automated ordering that was something that we thought would be useful early on in the design process one because we find that as a customer if you're able to see all the options that you have able to customize things on your own time without someone sort of rushing you through the process that's a more comfortable way for you to order food also it's an easier way for us to communicate with the robot hey we need you know a tie bowl with with kale and and freaka for instance I'm it's an easy way for the robot to collect information from from from our customers for those orders and also it streamlines the garbage Jay's job the guys behind the bar they're actually getting that information from the order say you wanted you want cilantro and scallions on top of your table and they're gonna see that on their their tablets and now okay this customer is gonna want these toppings and I can put that on really easily but streamlining that process as well I really love the screens above that kind of tell you who's the order for so you can kind of be like oh that's my order yeah when did you get that idea yeah so you know when we were imagining the so the experience of the restaurant we thought you know the details are really important so things like having your name up above all the walks you know which one is which wheel is yours that was something that we thought you know adding those little personal touches to the experience really makes makes going to a restaurant even more fun for for our customers and for guests so I'm having the things like the animation screens to put your name on there to show you what meals cooking and that way you can wash your your individual meal cook in front of your eyes and now like oh this one's mine this is this table I'm watching is my meal I get to watch it cook and that I think adds a little bit of of intrigue and it really connects you to to the robot in a way that that is approachable now you just got out of school practically and when you went to school did you have any idea you'd be a restaurant tour yeah so I told my parents hey mom and dad I'm graduating from MIT I'm going to the fast food industry and they were super excited no I mean I always loved food when I was in college I would cook meals myself and that was something that was passionate about I liked eating healthy I liked knowing what was going in my in my meals but didn't necessarily think that I was going to go into the restaurant industry going into school I wanted I knew I wanted to go into mechanical engineering do robotics and make something that could help people so originally I was thinking I would do prosthetics and then I realized how much you know by I was involved and watching surgeries and I can't handle the sight of blood so I knew okay I'm not gonna go on that path anymore so then I thought okay I'll go into robotics maybe I'll do something else I wanted to help people I wanted my what I built to be in sort of the public view so that they could they could see it and appreciate it and when Michael came to me with with an idea of hey you want make a certified robot I thought well that's getting pretty fun like sure surely can't be that difficult if I had known how long and how hard it was gonna be to make this I might have thought twice but you know sort ignorant says bliss so that's a key point I hear from a lot of successful entrepreneurs is that they didn't know enough to know that that would be something you couldn't do so they did it and that sounds like you you didn't know there to be hard it sounded fun and you just jumped right in you can't I just have to take that leap and you know trust that you're surrounded with a team that's gonna support you things get hard on your end they're gonna help you out and you kind of kind of flying blind a little bit but you know that you know you're starting with people who are gonna work hard and so at no point in this time did I think that the four of us you know couldn't do what we're gonna do I just didn't know exactly what it was going to entail so did it help doing it with friends as the team like if these have been for strangers would it have been a different experience yeah I think that you know us you know living either in college being on the same swimming in water polo teams having that sort of understanding of how to get through tough times and and sort of come together when when you're under stress when under pressure I think that definitely helped and you know at no point in time to ever think like oh man like am I gonna be able to rely on Luke to help build this thing in the middle of the night like no of course you are because you know he's got your back you know that you got that trust in him so I definitely think it was helpful that we all knew each other ahead of time and and that we knew that we're gonna support each other no matter what now these meals are built around the fact that you were you know starving college students couldn't afford to eat properly right and so how much these meals cost yeah so the base price of each meal is seven dollars and fifty cents Wow so how are you able to do that you've got so many different meals to choose from but they all start at that price how did you do it yeah so we're very efficient in our process so you know being engineers we thought you know how do we you streamline everything from you know getting the meals getting the ingredients to serving the meals to particular customers trying to find ways of making it making efficient making extreme line and so that's how we were able to get get our meals to say no to these cents and then we're very Pro robot Pro technology on this channel we know that that's what's coming but a lot of people their first reaction is you're putting people out of work what do you say to that yeah so I always say you know that wasn't our goal entering this company our goal was how do we get healthy food people at a price that's affordable I think once you come to the restaurant you see what we're doing you'll understand why we're doing it and once you try the food I think that you'll see you know wow this is a great value for the price you're paying what's your favorite dish at the moment I so I love the Indian Bowl sort of the piece of Mattei toes it's a great mixture that's something that reminds me of my mom cooking back home then we also have a Lebanese bowl that is new on the menu I'm sort of fall in love with that so it's sort of a battle between the two now any secrets you can tell us about what's going on behind the scenes they're like what you know what's coming up next for the restaurant or what you guys you know are planning in the future I think you know we're gonna try to open up small restaurants which should be exciting and then keeping working on developing developing the menu trying to add some new things to move on items that our culinary team is really excited to really push the boundaries of whatever I can do so expect to see some more fun things in the menu in the coming few months did you expect this restaurant to be as successful as quickly as it is I think I hoped that it would be but I don't think I had any expectations it was really exciting having people come in for the first time the first few days that was awesome and then I sort of expecting okay eventually they're gonna stop showing up like they seen the robot they think it's cool but the people keep coming back because the food is so good and that was sort of our our hope is that we sort of catch people with the robot that's kind of a hook but they keep coming back because they enjoy the food and I think we've been seeing that so far now last question when you first started I'm sure that you really know flicked on the switch robots go everything's good you get a few customers but now it's every day you better be ready for them right is that what extra pressure on the team I mean I would be lying if I said it didn't but so far they're always been working really well so it's kind of a weight off of our shoulders that we can take a step back and sort of just observe and realize that things are working okay and now we can throw focus on what's next nice so great to meet you thank you so much for doing this I was really excited to go in there and have some fun thank you thanks so much for watching now you know we work hard to bring you videos about things that we think you'll find useful but we need to know from you what you want to see so leave your comments below also don't forget to go over to our patreon page where for as little as a buck a month you can watch our patreon bonus story every week on Tesla time news thanks again we'll see you soon

47 thoughts on “Interview: Robot Restaurant Spyce's Co-Founder

  1. $7.50 isn't cheap, there are still people working in the restaurant, there is no novelty. This was possibly the most boring thing I've ever seen.

  2. Zac! You are amazing the way you relate to kids the age of your son the way you get their jokes the way you step back and give them room to express themselves… you keep astonishing me.
    You’re my role model now I’m a father although my kids are much younger than Jesse, and I’m aspiring to have the same relationship you guys have when my kids are his age…
    To complicate things you also remind me of my father often! he’s older than you and far away from me but my best memories of him are when he was about your age…
    Keep up the good work I love you and Jesse and all your videos from rockets to woks👍🏻👍🏻🥘🚀

  3. When can we see this in Germany? I would drive hours to try this out. To be honest, I was thinking about this way of restaurant for the last years. I'm happy that somebody finally put this idea into reality 🙂

  4. I’m excited about the notion of a chain restaurant with a lot of vegan options. My wife has a lot of food allergies and finding a place to eat is frustrating.

  5. Perhaps you can give more information on technology coming for jobs being taken by robots but giving a twist to leave humans to use them as tools and focus more on innovation on any particular field like: logistics, transportation, customer care, etc.

  6. Perhaps you can give more information on technology coming for jobs being taken by robots but giving a twist to leave humans to use them as tools and focus more on innovation on any particular field like: logistics, transportation, customer care, etc.

  7. My first thought on this restaurant was a bit meh…like it's cool but what's really the point? But seeing the people behind it and the passion they have is amazing! I really want to eat there now!

  8. I wonder if they have staff "behind the curtain" slicing and dicing all the food. Obviously, the cooking is highly automated, but the wonder how much if any of the preparation is automated.

  9. I don't like vegan cooking show. Vegan is not so good for the environment then the most people thinks and vegan food is often not very healthy. The meals they cook in the show can't be tasty and I can cook.

  10. Great questions. Wish there was on in Austin. Franchise the hell of this. Love that question about the guys getting together as a small group. Elon in his address to Stanford said exactly the same thing to the graduates. Keep in touch with others and pool the thoughts. You are really getting to be a good interviewer.

  11. That so cool restaurant. where is it… I will drive there to eat the food from CA. when I get the car. gonna be nice road trip

  12. From a dry heartless economic perspective, the goal is to put everyone out of work. We have done that thousands of times already and we still have not run out of things to do, we just become more productive. Sure, a worker is inconvenienced as he has to move on to remaining problems that his labor can be applied to. It is ridiculous to expect to be paid for doing any random job that a laborer might choose, it has to please a consumer enough to be profitable. Without recognizing the consumer choice first we prioritize a right to work over a point to work. making pointless work is making everyone poorer and less able to meet their needs both in what the market will choose to offer you in recognition and the ability of the market to have available what you want.

  13. And this… my friends… is what happens when you insist on making me as a business owner pay a $15 an hour minimum wage.
    I'll do it.. but I'm going to be hiring engineering students and robotics professionals…
    … not high school students.
    Small businesses used to be built on the idea that they would help young people build a work ethic. The rational was that minimum wadge jobs should be low enough so that these businesses would be willing to take on the risk of hiring someone who's work history was unknown.

  14. 3:11 would someone please elaborate what does he mean by "we didn't quite have the food motion profile of the cups down"? Does it mean that they couldn't be sure on the movement of the cups (e.x. how low the cup should go)

  15. Now You Know – Japan has had Robotic restaurants and fast food for Quite a while, even the simple Ramen Restaurants have TICKET machines outside and you pre order what you want, when a seat comes up, you sit down and hand the Chef a Ticket , he cooks the Meal FRESH for you. At Yoshinoya all aspects of meal prep and cooking are automated, only finishing touches are manual with just 1 chef. even the Dishes are washed and cleaned Automatically. Japan has many fast service restaurants with Automatic Bullet Train meal service, the sushi rice is prepaired automatically and portioned and perferctly formed. the fish is still sliced manually by Sushi chefs. the completed orders come out on a track personal coveyer as well as a conveyer that everyone can take items from that are pre made or Specials of the day. at the table FREE condiments and HOT water for green tea are provided.

  16. Great concept! I wonder if they'll ever have certain bowls be dedicated to cooking only vegan food. I know they are washed between cooking meals but I'm one of those weird people who don't want a meat dish cooked in the same bowl right before my vegan meal is cooked. I wish them the best of luck.

  17. For me, they has to work on two thinks: First: Use 100% compostable plastic! (Key Feature) and Second: come to Europe!

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