Autonomous kitchen developer Circus to roll out 5,400 robots across Beijing

CA-1 is a fully automated food system capable of ingredient dispensing, cooking, cleaning, and packaging without human intervention. | Source: Circus Group

Circus SE, a developer of autonomous kitchen systems, plans to roll out a network of 5,400 food production robots across 92 Beijing educational institutions. With the rollout, the company said it expects its revenue to grow to the low single-digit-billion euro range over the next few years. Circus Group also said the robots will produce nearly 4 billion fresh meals annually. 

Last week, Circus made the initiative official when it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Beijing University Food Raw Material Procurement Center. The company said the partnership will allow it to build and scale an autonomous flood supply network using its Circus Autonomy One (CA-1) system. 

“The signing of this MoU represents a significant milestone for Circus and the future of foodservice autonomy globally,” stated Nikolas Bullwinkel, founder and CEO of Circus Group.

“We are honored about the opportunity to serve Beijing’s students across educational institutions and faculties with our food service technology and offer a range of balanced meals to millions of bright minds while enhancing food safety and efficiency in university canteens with the implementation of this partnership,” he said. “This agreement marks our entry into the Chinese market and underscores the immense potential of our technology to transform food service around the world.”

Procurement Center serves over 90 institutions

Established in 2001, the Beijing University Food Raw Material Joint Procurement Center procures raw materials for university canteens, guided by China’s Ministry of Education and industry committees. The center is intended to guarantee food quality and safety and enhance the quality of life for students and faculty members. It serves more than 90 universities and educational institutions in Beijing, providing millions of meals daily within a limited timeframe. 

Launched in 2021, Circus currently has more than 75 employees and four locations. The Hamburg, Germany-based company’s stated goal is to disrupt food-service operations with the use of AI, robotics, and proprietary software systems. 

The MoU outlines the basic terms of future cooperation between the two parties. It is not legally binding but serves to define the key points of the contractual agreement until the detailed and legally binding contracts are drawn up. 

Circus Group plans for CA-1 rollout 

CA-1 is a food-production robot capable of autonomously dispensing ingredients, cooking, cleaning, and packing without human intervention, according to Circus. It has a compact 20 sq. m (215.2 sq. ft.) footprint.

The system can minimize production expenses and food waste while upholding culinary and hygiene standards, claimed the company.

As part of the agreement, the parties said they will establish an autonomous supply system, run by CA-1 robots, enabling the on-demand production of more than 10 million meals daily across Beijing’s educational institutions. The parties said that CA-1 will ensure the availability and constant accessibility of meals for every student. 

CA-1 runs on Circus Group’s proprietary operating system, Circus OS. The suite is designed to improve operational efficiency, quality assurance, and customer satisfaction by digitally controlling all operational processes and integrating artificial intelligence. 

Circus and the procurement center plan to carry out the collaboration in multiple phases. They will start with setting up joint test operations at universities to prepare for the broader market launch of CA-1. From the start of this initial phase, Circus will receive exclusive market access.

“The partnership with the Circus Group represents a significant step forward in the development of an automated and highly efficient food supply system,” said Liu Zhigang, director of the Beijing University Food Raw Material Joint Procurement Center. “Their robotics technology will provide our institutions with access to affordable, high-quality meals on demand, enhancing the quality of life for both students and teachers at our facilities.”

In an additional defined national growth phase, the procurement center could further support Circus in a nationwide rollout of the CA-1 food production robot to serve 4,000 educational institutions with a total of 60 million students.

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