Little Caesars patents a pizza robot

The automated assembly system does everything from spreading the dough to adding the pepperoni.

Little Caesars is staking out an advance position in restaurant automation by securing a patent for a pizza-making robot.

According to the patent granted franchisor Little Caesars Enterprises on Tuesday, the device can pull a dough-loaded pizza pan from a rack, press out the dough, apply sauce, add cheese and toppings and then place the pie in an oven.

The key, according to the filing, is an articulated arm that can grip the pan and move it along the various stages of pizza assembly.

The chain has yet to reveal any information about the possible deployment of the automated pizza-maker.

The patent is another indication that robots will likely have a future in the restaurant business. Zume Pizza, an upstart in the San Francisco Bay Area, is using five robots (Pepe, Giorgio, Marta, Bruno, and Vincenzo) on its pizza production line. The company has secured $48 million in funding for expansion.

But the robotization has not been without its setbacks. CaliBurger, a small burger chain, had to bench its Flippy burger-flipping robot earlier this week because humans couldn't keep up with the cyborg's pace of prepping 2,000 burgers per day.

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