To mitigate Covid-19 risks, Beijing Olympics organizers are taking an alternate approach to service. And cooking and bartending is just one of the many areas where robots are helping out. In a press release, the Beijing Committee stated that robots will be used for prevention and control measures. This includes "in accommodation, award presentation ceremonies, mobile vending, the delivery of goods and food items, the delivery of room services, the transport of medical equipment, providing guide and translation services, and patrol services, among other services."
In efforts to minimise person-to-person contact, meal venues resemble sci-fi movie junctures. Robots hang from the ceiling in the press cafeteria, serving select cuisines individually, while other robots are actually cooking and preparing meals. Giant arm-like structures deliver bowls of food from ceiling to table. After people grab their meals, the robots return to their ceiling locations. In another sector of the cafeteria, robots are acting as a barista to serve coffee and other drinks.
The automation can factor in the thousands of variations necessary to serve the needs of athletes from all over the world, with Chinese, Western and fast food options on the menu. And the ordering system is based on QR codes.
There has been much made of the automation of kitchen tasks and how robotics might fit into the restaurant kitchen of the future. In early 2021, Spanish company BR5 released launched robots that could cook paella, which attracted interest from hotel and restaurant chains. As the founder of BR5 said, their robots could fry potatoes, grill burgers, or even take up baking pizza and croissants.