February 23, 2022
Dexai Robotics, which develops intelligent robotics solutions for commercial kitchens, has announced it signed a $1.6 million contract with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to automate food services in multiple military installations around the U.S. Dexai will supply 10 of its “Alfred” sous-chef systems – an automated food preparation robot that improves production and quality of operations, reduces food waste and lowers risks of viral and microbial transmissions.
The first Alfred robot started operations at the end of 2021 at the Monarch Dining Facility of Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif. The Monarch DFAC is open to all 7,300-plus active duty personnel assigned at Travis, and serves an average of 950 customers per day. The Monarch installation is part of a pilot program that includes nine additional robots across the country. The Air Force and U.S. Space Force said they have expressed interest in using robotics in other operational functional areas under this industry program.
“We are very excited to be working with Dexai to test and integrate innovation and technology into our food and beverage operations,” said Jim Krueger, chief of food and beverage policy, procedures and strategic initiatives at the Air Force Food Services Center. “Our goal is to make our operations more efficient, safer, easier, and more sustainable. In terms of functionality, ease of implementation, and flexibility, Alfred far surpassed anything else we saw on the market. The fact that it can be optimized to each facility’s unique needs was also a significant differentiator. We’re confident that this pilot program will be just the beginning of a long Air Force and U.S. Space Force career for Alfred. I can’t wait to see what other roles and ideas we can develop with the commercial industry under this program.”
Alfred uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to assess and adapt to its surroundings. It also can manipulate a variety of standard kitchen utensils, and be installed in any existing commercial kitchen and prepare a variety of meals in a diversity of cuisines. This includes items such as salads, bowls and other meals.
“Anyone who’s worked in the restaurant industry will tell you that no two kitchens are exactly alike,” said David Johnson, CEO and co-founder of Dexai. “From the floor plan to the food-making process, each commercial kitchen has a unique environment with unique needs. Alfred’s ability to recognize and adapt to those unique demands, wherever it’s rolled out, puts the robot in a league of its own.”
Dexai began as a collaboration between researchers at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory at MIT and Harvard, and was founded in response to widespread labor shortages in the restaurant industry. As of November 2021, employment levels for restaurants and bars were down 6.1% from their pre-pandemic peak in February 2020. The National Restaurant Association said 78% of restaurant owners across the U.S. reported they don’t have enough employees to support current demand.
For more details on Dexai Robotics, visit its website here.