Salad chain Sweetgreen testing robots to make orders

Sweetgreen, the popular salad restaurant chain is trying out automation for its customer experience. One of its locations in Naperville, Illinois is trying out a robot that would replace human salad-makers to help out with a significant portion of the work. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the company is looking at options like having customers order from a tablet, which would then send the order to a robot to prepare the meal. The technology would include tubes that dispense ingredients according to the order. 

The company hopes that the idea would speed up delivery of food orders to customers. 

Sweetgreen is using an adaptation of Spyce technology it acquired in 2021 to try to create a “frictionless experience,” Restaurant Business reported. 

A video from the company shows how the robotic technology moves bowls under various dispensing devices to add ingredients to the bowl to construct salads on demand. 

Sweetgreen said the automated method is faster and has the ability to dispense more exact proportions for each layer of the salad. 

At the test location in Illinois, customers will be able to walk up to a “tasting counter” and try out the salads and give feedback. Jonathan Neman, who is the brand’s CEO, said, “We believe that automation will enable us to elevate the quality and integrity of our food, while also providing a faster and more convenient experience.”

A report from Food Engineering found that automation is more about a scarce labor force or what is known as “workforce availability.” 

The publication Food Processing said that survey data showed the nature of food and beverage production along with the expense and the “uncertainty of both hardware and software” all play a role in “slowing down” the adoption of automation in the food industry.