Robots out of work as automated businesses close in Bay Area


A robot placing a pizza into an oven at Zume Pizza in Mountain View, California. A Silicon Valley company that used robots to make its pizzas closed this week and three coffee shops in downtown San Francisco that used robots as baristas also shuttered. — AP

SAN FRANCISCO: It has been a bad week for robots in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A Silicon Valley company that used robots to make its pizzas closed this week, and three coffee shops in downtown San Francisco that used robots as baristas also shuttered.

Zume Pizza said it is cutting 172 jobs in Mountain View and eliminating another 80 jobs at its facility in San Francisco. Zume chief executive Alex Garden made the announcement in an email to employees on Jan 15, the Mercury News in San Jose reported.

The Mountain View startup, which first began delivering pizzas in 2016, said it intends to focus on its food packaging and delivery systems. Garden said former employees will be able to apply for the 100 new positions Zume expects to have in its packaging business.

In San Francisco, Cafe X closed three of its coffee shops in the financial district. The startup's founder, Henry Hu, said the downtown cafes helped develop the newest machine being used at shops at San Francisco International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

When Cafe X launched in 2017, its robotic baristas joined robots that made smoothies and hamburgers or mixed and dispensed salads and quinoa bowls.

Cafe X will continue to have competition in the automated coffee market. Briggo Coffee Haus has a robotic barista that can make 100 drinks per hour at San Francisco airport's Terminal 3, the Chronicle reported.

Robotics have boomed in warehouses to speed up productivity and bring down costs and increasingly have moved into industries like food service.

In the Bay Area, the popularity of robots stems in part from the region’s infatuation with technology, food and automation. – AP

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