A former SpaceX engineer is now launching pizzas, not rockets

·2 min read
pizza on conveyor belt
pizza on conveyor belt


A pizza ready to fire off, made by the Stellar Pizza robot

Benson Tsai is a former employee of SpaceX, which is Elon Musk’s playthi—er, space company. He worked there for five years, designing advanced battery systems for SpaceX vehicles, but his career path has wildly changed from launching spaceships into orbit to launching pizzas into peoples mouths. Tsai, whose robotic pizzeria, Stellar Pizza, which opens this spring, says there was a lot of learning involved, along with some pretty spectacular failures, Business Insider reports.

First of all, the pies only take 45 seconds to make. Going back to my time as a pizzamaker, stretching the dough to topping it for the oven could easily be done in under a minute-and-a-half. 45 seconds on a regular basis, however, would have been impossible. Anything done that quickly can leave you with a ton of room for error, and it sounds like there were some mechanical hijinks involved.

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Tsai said one time the pizza bot “dumped melted cheese everywhere” during a testing session. As it tried to make a cheese pizza, the robot’s motors spun the wrong way, and suddenly started making a reverse pizza. As in, the robot managed to somehow take the cooked cheese off the pizza, and back onto the launching peel, which is the tool that shuffles the pie into the oven. I’m sure that was good for a laugh or three, until someone, presumably a human, had to clean it up.

“While we don’t like wasting cheese, an event like this is a great learning opportunity for our team,” he said. “It was much cheaper than crashing a rocket to gain insight into our machine.” I guess that’s true. I bet Musk really loves it when one of his rockets crashes.

This isn’t some giant pizza robot, however. It’s small enough that it can fit into a truck, which is conveniently parked across the street from SpaceX. I’m sure Tsai knows that his former coworkers can afford a robot pizza, considering they’re all aerospace engineers.

Anyone interested in trying a pizza, has to order through an app (of course), which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a bad idea. The prices are fair, ranging from $7-$10 for a 12" pie. As far as he knows, Tsai said Musk hasn’t tried the pizza yet. But if you see Musk spouting off some weird pizza meme on Twitter while simultaneously crashing the crypto market, you’ll probably know what his lunch was that day.