There is chef Jiro Ono, in Jiro Dreams of Sushi, dedicating 75 years of his life to the art of sushi, making and serving only one piece at a time at his tiny restaurant in Japan, and then there is this: Sushi robots that churn out 300 medium-sized rolls per hour, or rice mounds for nigiri at 3,600 mph. That's mounds per hour, although it's probably just a matter of time before someone combines these robots with Google's self-driving car to create a vehicle that rolls sushi as you roll through traffic.
According to Wired, Japanese company Suzumo unveiled its sushi robots recently at the World Food and Beverage Great Expo 2012 in Tokyo. One robot is dedicated to making nigiri sushi: It scoops up the rice, quickly shapes it in the proper oblong form and places it on a tray, ready to be topped with slices of fish. "It does not cut even a grain of rice when forming," a Suzumo representative tells Wired. Meanwhile, another robot makes sushi rolls by flattening the rice onto wrappers and rolling them once the filling is placed.
Suzumo, whose motto is "We love rice" and mission statement is "Spreading the rice eating culture to the world," has been developing these machines since 1981. In addition to these robots, the company sells other machines that make "omusubi, norimaki, inari-zushi, rice burgers and rice pizza with the consummate technique of a professional sushi chef." Somehow, we doubt that last part, at least until the robots become sentient and realize a passion for sushi.
If (or when) that does happen, Suzumo's creations won't be the only ones linking into the Skynet of sushi: Like Cylons, these sushi robots have many copies. Japanese sushi chains have been integrating robots into their restaurants for a while now, and as Wired points out, there are other companies, including Robotic Sushi, that are automating the sushi-making process on a mass scale. Rather than replacing the chefs at higher-end restaurants, however, Wired sees these robots as "clearly geared more toward all-you-can-eat joints, high-volume supermarkets, sporting venues, hospitals or schools." Because, as nifty as SushiBot is (video below), it's nowhere near as fascinating as watching Chef Jiro Ono, or either of his sons, or any sushi chef in town, really, practice their art. Score one for humanity.