Ramen robots invade Japanese restaurant

A noodle shop in Japan has employed robots to make your soup. Next, they'll assume your identity and steal your car.

Udon combo in Tokyo
Udon combo in Tokyo. Dave Rosenberg

Just when you thought your noodle waterslide was the height of Japanese food gadgetry, a ramen shop in Minami-Alps, Yamanashi, Japan, is gaining popularity for its robot chef.

Technically the robot doesn't make the noodles, instead assembling the bowl, including the customized flavor options. Customers place orders on a computer, customizing aspects such as the levels of soy sauce and salt, and richness of the soup. Shop owner Yoshihara Uchida says there are 40 million different flavor permutations.

The noodles themselves are cooked by a human, with the robot creating a perfectly blended soup which is then delivered to the human chef via a conveyor belt, who adds the noodles and toppings. The whole process takes only about two minutes, a minute shorter than instant cup noodles.

The robot was completed in December 2008 after five years of trial and error, including computer crashes caused by spilled soup. Uchida wants to mass produce the robot in the future and "leave my mark out there," which means one day you too can have a ramen robot.

Previous and related noodle news:
Gadget watch: Noodle waterslide
The best of Japanese food technology: Ramen Radar
Woman eats 383 bowls of soba in 10 minutes (video)

Follow me on Twitter @daveofdoom.

About the author

Dave Rosenberg has more than 15 years of technology and marketing experience that spans from Bell Labs to startup IPOs to open-source and cloud software companies. He is CEO and founder of Nodeable, co-founder of MuleSoft, and managing director for Hardy Way. He is an adviser to DataStax, IT Database, and Puppet Labs.

 

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