Modern technology has introduced robots that can replace human workers in a fast food burger business. There is a robot named Flippy, developed by Miso Robotics, that costs less to employ than a minimum wage worker. For $3 an hour, flippy can flip 150 burgers an hour, and it never tires or needs to go home. But, Miso Robotics charges an up-front fee of between $20,000 to $30,000 to install Flippy.
A report by the LA Times had this to say: “As a result, Miso can offer Flippys to fast-food restaurant owners for an estimated $2,000 per month on a subscription basis, breaking down to about $3 per hour. (The actual cost will depend on customers’ specific needs). A human doing the same job costs $4,000 to $10,000 or more a month, depending on a restaurant’s hours and the local minimum wage. And robots never call in sick.” However, just to clarify, this does not mean that minimum-wage employees flipping burgers earn $4,000 to $10,000 a month, they would definitely love that salary.
Digital Trends further adds that Flippy is a “burger flipping robot arm that’s equipped with both thermal and regular vision, which grills burgers to order while also advising human collaborators in the kitchen when they need to add cheese or prep buns for serving.” Looks like this robot is the boss in the kitchen.
Miso Robotics’ first units sold for upwards of $100,000. Currently, they go for 1/10th of that price, and are getting more inexpensive. 2017 saw the first international chain to install Flippy, CaliBurger. But Flippy wasn’t the first robot to take over a kitchen, and it won’t be the last. Surprisingly, it was Taco Bell that used robotics first in the kitchen, with their “Automatic Taco Machine.” This was about 30 years ago, and may have been forgotten as it failed to deliver, there were just too many problems then. Taco Bell has since given up on automation, and are looking elsewhere, in the form of self-ordering kiosks. They plan to install this in all their outlets across the US.
Restaurant chains that are currently using automation are KFC, Wendy’s, Panera, Arby’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s. Former Mcdonald’s CEO Ed Rensi said “It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging french fries.”
China is also updated with e-commerce giant Alibaba having a chain of automated grocery stores with attached diners staffed by robot waiters that take your order. Even more surprising is real-estate giant Country Garden Holdings opening its first fully robotic restaurant in Guangzhou, China, where computers and robots handle everything including ordering, food prep, serving, and cleaning the tables (a busrobot instead of a busboy).
Robots are not just taking over restaurants – they have been in manufacturing for some time, and it is estimated that by 2030, over 800 million careers will be lost to automation. This includes journalists, doctors, accountants, and even lawyers. The University of Oxford predicts that 47% of US jobs are at risk of being replaced by Artificial Intelligence within the next 20 years.
So is this good or bad? Depends on your point of view. Definitely you don’t want to lose your job to a robot. Only time will tell how the world will handle A.I. and automation, or rather, robot domination.