Researchers in Naples Are Struggling to Build a Robot That Can Make Pizza From Scratch

RoDyMan the pizza-bot has bendable arms, hands and fingers, but it can’t stretch dough without tearing it.

Famed pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia dons a motion-capture suit to help a pizza-bot learn to move and manipulate objects like humans do.


Pizza chefs don’t have to worry about being replaced by robots just yet. Researchers in Naples have found that highly advanced machines can barely even stretch dough without tearing it, much less build a pizza from start to finish on their own. And even the project’s director says he would never eat pizza made by mechanical hands.

According to Scientific American, Bruno Siciliano and a team of engineers at the University of Naples Federico II are trying to design a robot that can make a pizza from scratch, including kneading and stretching the dough, saucing and topping the crust and popping it into the oven.

Called RoDyMan (short for Robotic Dynamic Manipulation), the bot is outfitted with powerful sensors that allow it to “sense the world in extraordinary detail and move with impeccable precision.” It also has bendable arms, hands and fingers. As the video below demonstrates, it can handle a pizza peel and toss a fake piece of dough—well, sort of—but it still has a lot to learn before it will be able to accurately mimic simple motions that come easily and without any real thought to humans.

Working with master pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia, who runs a renowned pizza academy and two pizza restaurants in Naples, the researchers are using motion-capture technology—well-known for its applications in films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy—to teach RoDyMan to carry itself more like a human being.

While performing tasks like stretching pizza dough, Coccia wears a suit of movement-tracking sensors, and the engineers try to digitally map, analyze and reproduce those motions in RoDyMan, which should eventually be able to teach itself to handle pizza like a professional chef through practice.

In an article on his website last year, Coccia said the roboticists have taken on “a very demanding challenge.” He wrote, “I have a great responsibility as I have to teach it all the things related to the Neapolitan pizza: the dough grasp; the precision grasp in the toss phase, in which you have to grab and release the dough disc while assessing the texture, too; the movements between the palm and the thumb; the bimanuality; and I have to be able to instill the organizational strategy in bimanual tasks as well.” 

Siciliano’s team plans to debut RoDyMan at a pizza festival in Naples next year. But Siciliano admitted to Scientific American that robot-made pizza would always lack that certain something. “I would never eat a pizza made by a robot,” he said. “It would not have the taste a real pizzaiolo, with his soul, would put in it.”



Edit Module

Tell us what you think at or email.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Meet Vincenzo: Zume Pizza Unveils Its Smartest Pizza Making Robot Yet

Loud Music Determines Choice Between Pizza and Salad, says Study

New study shows that the louder the music is in a restaurant, the more decadent the food choices will be by consumers.

Blaze Pizza Starts Offering Delivery

Blaze Pizza partners with delivery service Postmates to begin offering delivery in 90 of its 270 locations.

Are Brides Ready for the Pizza Bouquet?

Villa Italian Kitchen is offering brides and grooms the chance to win a pizza bouquet and boutonniere.

The Scary Truth About Online Reviews: Negative Trumps Positive in Readers' Minds

Most online reviews don't reflect reality. Here's why we believe them anyway.

How to Turn Your Car Into a Pizza Oven

A French artist has transformed an old Ford Mondeo into a different kind of mobile pizzeria.

New Box Designed for Eating Pizza in Bed

The pizza box from a Canadian chain folds into an over-the-lap tray with cardboard legs.

Domino's Fills Potholes to Pave Road to Better Pizza Delivery

Pizza chain offers to pay for street repairs in select cities around the country.

"Hilariously Shaped Dudes" Serve Up Hawaiian Pizza Topped With Spam in New Orleans

The former owners of Lonesome Pizza stand tall in new shop on North Rampart Street.

Pizza Prices on the Rise in NYC

A number of factors account for the increase, New York pizzaiolo say.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags