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Robotic ‘Dark Kitchen’ Control: Robotic Food Preparation

Industry- Food & Beverage

About the Company

Kitchen Robotics™ specializes in the development of robotic dark kitchens solutions, also known as ghost or cloud kitchens. The company vision is to reshape the way restaurants design, prepare, manage and deliver dishes in multiple cuisines. The Kitchen Robotics™  suite consists of their hardware robotic product Beastro™, supported by their Dark Kitchen OS, Cuismo™

The Challenge

To create robotic ‘chef’ machines that receive customer orders from the Cloud via a website or app, and then weigh, mix, and cook orders according to exact recipes—and that washes the pots after preparation. 

Products Used

Unitronics’ UniStream® PLCs, AC Servo Drives, & VFDs, programmed in UniLogic All-in-One software


The UniStream PLC receives customer orders via website or app, from the Kitchen Robotics company Cloud in real-time, using an API that implements a dedicated TCP/IP protocol written in UniLogic, Unitronics all-in-one development software.

UniStream checks the raw ingredients inventory via sensors in the ingredient containers. If all ingredients are present in sufficient quantity, the robotic chef machine begins to prepare the order by assembling the recipe ingredients. 

Raw ingredients are exactly measured via dosing stations comprising stepper motors controlled by serial communication, ensuring accurate measurement by weight via closed-loop control. The system contains approximately 45 dosing stations that handle liquids, powders, and solids.

Unitronics VFDs control all mixing procedures and the stirring of the pot contents, via serial communications.

During the cooking process, 6 Unitronics AC Servo axes transport the pots through the cooking stations, moving the pots on and off induction surfaces according to order.

When the dish is complete, the machine pours the pot contents into the serving dish and transports the pot is to the cleaning station to be washed and dried.

Specific Challenges

Communications The Kitchen Robotics system required that the UniStream PLC connect to the cloud and execute commands in real time; this required the team to create an API and implement a dedicated TCP-IP protocol, using several ports simultaneously. In addition, the different system components used different protocols, both standard and dedicated—the UniStream PLC needs to communicate with over 60 components such as servos, VFDs, heaters, sensors, steppers, etc.

Servo Motion the different axes of motion relied on different mechanisms: rack & pinion, roll feeders, linear and rotary actuators, and other dedicated mechanisms. The force of each axis had to be modified in real-time, while the systems was running. Each axis, edge sensor, mechanical brake, etc. required a different homing method. 

In addition, there were issues of overlap—this was handled by using absolute encoders to check the current position before the start of any movement, and to change the speed of movement of each axis accordingly while mapping the current position throughout the movement. This enabled the system to achieve high levels of both efficiency and safety.

Steppers By controlling the steppers via communication, the team was able to reduce costs by avoiding the complex wiring and integration that such a large number of steppers would otherwise require.

VFDs Electric motors produce a lot of EMI; in order to produce a machine with a small physical footprint so densely packed with motors, it is imperative to reduce the effects of EMI. Unitronics VFDs were chosen specifically because they offer built-in control via communication, instead of analog signals that are sensitive to electromagnetic noise.

Benefits of using Unitronics

Kitchen Robotics selected Unitronics not only because the products filled all of the necessary requirements—they also recognized the advantages of Unitronics All-in-One Solution, which enabled them to easily obtain all control components for their complex Motion application from a single supplier: PLCs and HMIs, servo drives, motors, and VFDs – all seamlessly supported, commissioned, and programmed in UniLogic software.

The Unitronics approach to motion, Servo Made Simple, enabled them to define axes, implement control, analyze, and track processes, while Unitronics motion experts were available to aid them throughout the project.

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