Is making burgers now a job for robots?
For years there has been speculation that technological advancements would eventually automate away fast food jobs. The launch of a new robotic burger chef will doubtless have people wondering if that possible future is here.
Bay Area culinary robotics startup Creator has opened a restaurant of the same name, built around a robot capable of creating a custom burger — with a price tag of $6 — from start to finish, according to Bloomberg. The robot is capable of slicing and toasting the bun, grinding the meat, adding seasoning, cooking the patty and adding toppings all to order.
A YouTube video from TechCrunch shows a demonstration of the Creator robot. Buns and burgers are pushed down a Rube Goldberg-esque conveyor belt that carries out a step-by-step preparation, while artificial intelligence (AI) sensors monitor characteristics like “doneness.” In the video,
Addressing the labor market issue, Creator’s inventor argues that the concept has a sizeable in-house staff paid $16 an hour and that, in general, the removal of the need for repetitive work like burger flipping will allow people to take on more fulfilling roles.
It is not clear if there are plans to offer the technology as a turn-key solution for other quick serve or fast casual restaurants.
Some other fast food restaurants have been taking other steps in the direction of automation. Most notably, in 2016, McDonald’s began piloting its “Store of the Future,” featuring automated touch screen kiosks for ordering (alongside other new features like table service and more varied burger toppings).
Creator isn’t the first attempt at creating a robotic fast food chef. Last year Miso Robotics released Flippy, a simpler but effective robotic burger-flipping mechanism. In June, The Wall Street Journal reported that Caliburger planned to implement Flippy in 10 of its 50 restaurants by the end of 2018.
- The World’s First Robotic Burger is Ready to Hit the Bay Area – Bloomberg
- McDonald’s to add self-order kiosks to 1,000 stores each quarter – CNBC
- The McDonald’s of the Future leans fast-casual – RetailWire
- A robot cooks burgers at startup restaurant Creator – YouTube
- Juicero, maker of the doomed $400 internet-connected juicer, is shutting down – The Verge
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Creator among the first steps toward total automation of fast food jobs? Are there reasons why fast food and quick serve restaurants might avoid adopting similar solutions?