I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been calling for the fast-food industry to ditch their low-paid, often-teenaged labour and go with robots instead.
The list of reasons to do so is long: with fast-food being assembly-line work more than it is cooking, automation would be cheaper in the long run and more efficient. Customers orders would be screwed up less frequently (if ever) and the robots certainly wouldn’t be taking baths in sinks where food is washed or sticking boogers in the orders. Those out-of-work teens, meanwhile, would be forced to use their time more productively. Like maybe starting up a company that designs robots.
It was with pleasure then, that I read about Momentum Machines the other day. It’s a San Francisco-based startup that has created a robot that can pump out 360 gourmet hamburgers (as in those with high-quality ingredients), but takes up only 24 square feet.
The company is now planning a chain of automated restaurants armed with these robots. With the cooks taking up so little space, the restaurants will be able to offer more spacious and luxurious sitting. If the concept art above is any indicator, such restaurants would more closely resemble Apple stores than Burger King outlets.
The machines apparently produce high-quality burgers because everything is made to order. The tomatoes and pickles are sliced just before they go on the burger, ensuring their freshness, while customers will soon be able to order custom meat grinds. As the company’s literature puts it: “Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground after you place your order? No problem.”