For the time-poor, the super organized and the simply shy, Pizza Hut is introducing a way for you to get your favorite pizza without having to wait in line or even interact with humans. According to Insider, the company once famous for their suspiciously identical buildings and irresistible buffet are trialing a technology that will take them into the future at their restaurant at 6660 Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, CA.
Customers can order their pizza however they want it online, on the phone, or even at the restaurant itself, and then rock up to a wall of cubbies. Each is lined with special insulation to make sure your food stays hot and your drinks stay cool. When your meal is ready, including drinks and sides, your name will appear on the front of the appropriate cubby. All you have to do is tap on it twice, the door will open, and you just grab your food and go.
How close I am to ordering pizza instead of eating the groceries I just bought yesterday: pic.twitter.com/RCytUSd1aU— Pizza Hut (@pizzahut) July 7, 2019
And in case you were worried about potential pizza thievery, Pizza Hut understands your concerns:
a week ago, someone in Durango, CO used my phone number @pizzahut and used my rewards points to pay for their order. i saw the email confirmation and called the store. they canceled the order before the thief could get the food. then @pizzahut locked my account.— michael eric woodward (@photo_obscura) March 17, 2019
A spokeswoman for Pizza Hut told The Takeout that if you order and pay in advance, you’ll have to sign a receipt when you arrive (so, yes, that could require human interaction) and then your cubby will light up.
The company has said that they’re specifically targeting introverts — and it’s not the first time.
I just found out @pizzahut will start delivering pizzas via a @FedEx robot this summer, and finally my pipe dream of ordering food with zero human interaction will be possible. #introvert #finally #pizzaforone #introvertlife #singlelife— Rachel Barry (@rbperry6337) March 1, 2019
That’s right: Pizza Hut is one of several companies working with FedEx to use robots for the very last leg of delivery. Some people pointed out that perhaps humans could do that:
Hey @fedex @dominos @pizzahut I know you guys are super psyched to test out these new delivery robots... but how about just hire more people. People need jobs. Walking outside promotes exercise & human-to-human interaction, releasing endorphins, resulting in happy people. pic.twitter.com/DvH8cDVK2G— ✨🌙MoonChild🌈👽🛸✨ (@ladyprime143) February 28, 2019
Although others were alarmed for a different reason.
I knew I’d seen that new Pizza Hut delivery vehicle somewhere. Straight out of I, Robot pic.twitter.com/3MIceQS8Ga— Marcus A. Stricklin (@marcusthetoken) January 11, 2018
Pizza Hut have also worked with Toyota to come up with robots that make pizzas while on the move:
Meet the @pizzahut #robot #pizza truck 🚛 🍕 #robotics #automation #food #foodtruck @avrohomg @JonathanAufray @dez_blanchfield @sallyeaves @evankirstel @digitalcloudgal @psb_dc @ipfconline1 @StartGrowthHack— Dr Martin Hiesboeck (@MHiesboeck) May 8, 2019
As usual, some people are wary of the new cubby technology on trial. (They must be extroverts.)
What a sad reflection that Pizza Hut US has launched cubby holes to collect your pizza because “let’s face it, many of us welcome any opportunity to skip the small talk”. May not always be welcome but dangerously close to losing any human contact at all (from #propel)— Kate Hempsall (@katehempsall) July 26, 2019
Or what it says about the restaurants.
The carry out locker is not for introverts. The locker is designed for @pizzahut pan pizza lovers, whom, when they visit a pizza restaurant, generally are repulsed by the site of the prep area. Just look at every review for carry out locations, everyone thinks it’s disgusting 🙃— Big Squeeze (@RealAndrewVo) July 24, 2019
On the bright side, anyone who has worked in public-facing jobs will appreciate that it means the staff are spared human interaction too:
Although it could actually mean there are fewer jobs to go round:
In case you’re someone who tends to be suspicious of new technology, this idea is actually based on an old one. From the early 1910s to the 1970s, one of the most popular places for people of all incomes to eat was the automat. Picture a wall of small cubbies, with clear fronts, which operated like vending machines. You’d put your coin in, the door opened, and you took your piece of pie or cup of coffee or whatever you wanted.
Fast forward to today, and Pizza Hut isn’t the first chain to revamp this technology for the 21st century. In 2017, Chinese-American cuisine chain Wow Bao opened a robot-run store in Chicago, IL, using technology designed by a company called Eatsa at the time, and now called Brightloom — the company hired by Pizza Hut.
And yes, it prompted the same fears regarding the robots coming for jobs.
WOW BAO is in 3018. You can only order through a kiosk and your food is place in little compartments. Robots gonna replace all of us. pic.twitter.com/cwT3hiuZ9b— Aggressively Tired (@TheGtweets) October 6, 2018
We’ve even got used to seeing a slightly lower tech version around:
The Amazon locker is already becoming a part of our everyday lives. In theory, at least:
It’s a work in progress…
Just like a pizza that hasn’t been cut properly, we’re torn. On the one hand, having pizza appear behind a door with our name on it sounds like an actual dream we’ve had (especially on days when we have already human-ed more than feels necessary.) On the other hand, this is wading into dystopian levels of avoiding human interaction, not to mention the potential risk to jobs. If you’ve read the end of this robot-based sci-fi novel we’re apparently living in, let us know how it turns out.