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AI Chef Created by Startup

The startup has already raised a total of €14.93 million to date, with notable investors such as Ocado Group, Hoxton Ventures, Taylor Brothers and the Future Fund.

Robots, food and AI. 20 years ago, this would’ve been something that seemed almost impossible to achieve and pretty much unfathomable, but now it’s becoming more of a reality every day. Many startup companies have created their own robots to cook a variety of items, such as pasta, burgers and pizza. Even robot bartenders are more of a thing now, a quirky gimmick for most without the need to come into human contact. A robot called Flippy made by Miso Robotics can be purchased for a mere $30,000, and is able to make 19 food items, and is used by many fast-food restaurants today including the infamous White Castle in the U.S. Whilst we are still in the midst of a pandemic, these types of digital assistants could prove more sanitary and make many more appearances in the near future. But what about nutrition, weights, and a variety of higher standard meals, all customisable and provided by an AI robot? Karakuri has the answer.

Founded in February 2018 by two friends who both worked at ARM in the 1990’s, Barney Wragg and Simon Watt, Karakuri was an idea that was thought up by the pair after realizing AI and lower-cost robotics could be and should be integrated into the catering and restaurant industries. In April of 2018, only a couple of months after the company was founded, they got an investor- Founders Factory, a Venture Capital company of which one of the founders Brent Hoberman became chairman for Karakuri, seeing a major opportunity in the business. The UK-based tech company got their name from 16th century Japanese autonomous dolls, which are mechanised puppets that were used for entertainment, and serving tea.

Although still in prototype testing, the recent unveiling of the pre-production model of the DK-One is currently being demoed in the Karakuri facility in Hammersmith, London. It is said to be the first robotic solution for fast paced, high volume restaurants and cafeterias, and will individually prepare customized meals following requirements for each person ensuring portion control and minimal food waste. Its capabilities include preparing and cooking fresh hot and cold meals, monitoring temperatures of the food, keeping data stored such as stocking dates and refill times, and can serve around 60-100 portions of food per hour. The machine will be easy to operate, simple to maintain and will handle many nutritious and personal food orders. More people are wanting a healthy, fast meal that will cater to their specific dietary needs and their price range. Food that caters to these standards are often over-priced and/or poorly made and aren’t possible through mass production. The DK-One will see to these needs and provide a unique solution to simple challenges seen in the food industry.

“This is one of the most highly-anticipated stages of our business and a really important step. Now up and running, this will be the first time we can use a pre-production machine to demonstrate the DK-One’s commercial and nutritional benefits in the real world and thus demonstrate our vision for the future of food.” - Barney Wragg, CEO and co-founder of Karakuri.

As well as the DK-One, they also have a smaller scale robot named Marley, offering the likes of custom-made ice creams and cocktails, and dispensing candy. All with the same style configuration as the larger and more meal-based model, with nutritional values on show and customisation for orders available. Rival robot-chef company Moley Robotics still requires a human to give the ingredients of the meal in correct weights and quantities, which is where Karakuri will excel with it’s highly intelligent system.

The startup has already raised a total of €14.93 million to date, with notable investors such as Ocado Group, Hoxton Ventures, Taylor Brothers and the Future Fund. The latest round of funding was an amount of €7.20 million and was led by firstminute capital. This money will be fully utilised to speed up the incredible developments in the technology and provide a fast-track to releasing their products to the public, which they are hoping to be done this year. Karakuri also has some strong advisors that help shape research and designs for future and current projects, one of whom is Heston Blumenthal. Some of the people who work there have been or are currently executives from Ocado, Imperial London College, Bristol Robotics Lab and Yum!.

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