Robot Burgers in San Francisco

September 14, 2018
Robot Burgers in San Francisco

Try the new $6 burger. It’s made by a robot in the new Creator restaurant in San Francisco.

The robot uses over 350 sensors and 20 computers to make the customizable burger.  The restaurant is only open part-time at the moment, but plans to open full-time in September.  All of the ingredients are locally sourced.

Currently, four kinds of hamburgers are being made by the robot.  But in the future, customers will be able to control how much sauce and seasonings will be added by the robot.  Inherently, all of the sides are made by humans, and the ordering process is manual as well.

Video Spotlight: Robots Are Making Burgers in San Francisco

This post is based on the NPR article, Fad or the Future? Robot-Made Burgers Wow the Crowds in San Francisco, by Anna Mantzaris, August 24, 2018; and the YouTube video, World’s First Entirely Robotic Restaurant | Robots are Making Burgers in San Francisco, by Prep4School, June 23, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Palto.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why use a robot for making a hamburger?

Guidance: At the moment, the appeal is the novelty of the robot.  But, one of the items that is being promoted is the precision of the robot.  Using 20 computers and 350 sensors allows for very precise constructions of the burger.  This should result in a more consistent, high-quality burger.  When the ability to customize sauces and seasoning is added, the robot may make a superior burger.  Another advantage is that the worker is removed from the cooking process, keeping them away from harmful vapors.

2. What are the potential issues in using the robot to make burgers?

Guidance: The biggest issues initially will be the cost.  Using 350 sensors and 20 computer puts a large price tag on this robot.  It will take a large number of $6 burgers to pay it off.  Also if you look at the video, the tomatoes, hamburger patties, and other ingredients must be extremely consistent.  This takes time, effort, and money to ensure their consistency.  However, this will also lead to a more consistent, and therefore higher quality burger.

3. What will be the impact on employment when this hamburger robot is implemented?

Guidance: The impact may be minimal.  Workers may be displaced, but there are other jobs for them to perform.  First, someone must keep the robot stocked with fresh ingredients.  There is also the need for programing and repair of the machine.  The article mentions that people are part of the process.  For example, they use manual processes to take the order.They believe that people in the process make for a better customer experience.  It would appear that the intent of this robot is to be able to more precisely make a hamburger.


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