Today’s robots are pretty extraordinary. There are ones that can paint incredible works of art, run lettuce farms, and even act like us. The newest of these is BeeHex. Beehex can 3D-print any type of pizza.
The inventors, largely hardware engineers, received a $125,000 grant from NASA to develop the device, cofounder Jordan French tells Tech Insider. NASA was looking for a bot that could easily make something delicious (as opposed to normal, unappetizing space food) for astronauts during future Mars missions.
In the meantime, BeeHexes will be at theme parks, sports arenas, music venues, and malls nationwide starting early 2017. Compared to human workers, the robot is faster, cleaner, and more consistent, French says. Only one person is needed to work the machine, which can lay down the dough, sauce, and cheese in only a few minutes.
Here’s how it works
The BeeHex can produce any type of pizza in any shape, French says. Like most 3D printers, it hooks up to a computer that tells it which dough, sauce, and cheese to use.
Beehex is working with world-renowned chef Pasquale Cozzolino to design the pizza recipes.
The team hasn’t finalized which brands will carry BeeHexes, but Six Flags may sign on, French says. Customers will be able to order them at kiosks.
You will also be able to order a pizza through the BeeHex app, which pings you when it’s ready. You can choose the pizza’s size (10 or 12-inch), dough (plain, tomato, or gluten-free), sauce (tomato basil, pesto, or vodka), and cheese (mozzarella or burrata).
Depending on the size, toppings, dough, and location, a Beehex pizza will cost anywhere from $8 to $15. More options will be available in the future, including thicker crusts and larger sizes.
The pizza possibilities are endless, French says. BeeHex’s system can take any jpg file and turn it into a pizza shape — even one that looks like Donald Trump.
Eventually, Beehex will experiment with making other foods, like bagels and scones (Pizzas are the easiest food to 3D-print, because they’re flat). The same technology can make objects too.
After you place your order, the nozzle first applies a layer of liquefied dough in the shape you want.
A pressurized system pushes each ingredient from the cartridges, through the tubes, and then out the nozzles. For harder cheeses like Parmesan, the bot knows to release more pressure.
When it’s done, you pop it into a 400-degree oven for five minutes … and voilá! Time to slice up your 3D-printed pizza.
I tried a slice, which tasted exactly like a normal pizza. However, the pizza did cool off very quickly due to the ultra-thin crust. After a few minutes, the slices can taste closer to crackers than pizza — So BeeHex’s creations are served best right after they come out of the oven.
When piping hot, BeeHex’s pizzas rival those made by real chefs — maybe even better. “It has the potential to create more interesting foods, like, say, a pastry with hundreds of different layers,” French says. “These are things that you just can’t make with human hands.”