Robo Dining Coming To A College Campus Near You

Stanford engineers and a Michelin-star chef partner to build robo-run restaurants.

Inspired by the typical college student struggle for affordable, nutritious food, a group of Stanford University students have teamed up with a Michelin-star chef to create robot-run modular restaurants. The whole project is in early stages, but I'm already jealous of the students who get to try this out.

The modular restaurant project is called Mezli, and the way it works is surprisingly simple but also super complicated if you really think about it. The aim is to make the restaurants completely autonomous, which means no human work in preparing the meals at all. Automation itself isn't new; factories all over the world use robots to make and package products. Where this gets complicated, is the actual robotics. I won't even pretend that I know anything about that part.

This project gets interesting with the possibility of feeding broke college students. People joke about the "freshman 15" because college students have a reputation for terribly unhealthy diets. Why is that our norm, though? Did I really want to be eating two double cheeseburgers from McDonald's every other night? Maybe sometimes, but in general it was because it was cheap and available. Dining hall food was the ultimate relationship gone wrong. At first the food looked good and I was happy to eat it, but then a few weeks later the options were less and less appetizing. Not to mention, food plans weren't exactly cheap.

The meals in this autonomous restaurant start at $4.99 and consist of Mediterranean-style ingredients like cauliflower, rice, falafels, chicken, shredded lamb, zucchini, red peppers, etc. The prices do go up from $4.99 to as high as $9.99 but the portion sizes look filling and promising.

For now, the tester meals are only available in California. Hopefully, with more funding and development, the Mezli team will be able to reduce the prices even further and make this robo-meal generator a reality.