Meet "Smart Restaurant": The Minimum-Wage-Crushing, Burger-Flipping Robot

Tyler Durden's picture

With a seemingly endless line of talking-heads willing to ignore essentially every study that has been undertaken with regard the effects of raising the minimum-wage; and propose what is merely populist vote-getting 'benefits' for the ever-increasing not-1% who benefitted from Ben Bernnake's bubbles - we thought the following burger-flipping robot was a perfect example of unintended consequences for the fast food industry's workers. With humans needing to take breaks, have at least 4 weekend days off per month, and demanding ever-increasing minimum-wage for a job that was never meant to provide a 'living-wage', Momentum Machines - a San Francisco-based robotics company has unveiled the 'Smart Restaurants' machine which is capable of making ~360 'customized' gourmet burgers per hour without the aid of a human. First Jamba Juice, then Applebees, next McDonalds...


As Brian Merchant ( @bcmerchant ) explains (via The Burning Platform blog),

Meet the Robot That Makes 360 Gourmet Burgers Per Hour


No human hand touched this hamburger. It was made entirely by robots




One robot, rather—a 24 square foot gourmet-hamburger-flipping behemoth built by Momentum Machines. It looks like this:


The San Francisco-based robotics company debuted its burger-preparing machine last year. It can whip up hundreds of burgers an hour, take custom orders, and it uses top-shelf ingredients for its inputs. Now Momentum is proposing a chain of ‘smart restaurants’ that eschew human cooks altogether.


Food Beast points us to the Momentum’s official release, where the company blares:


“Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices. Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant. It does everything employees can do except better.”


And what might this robotic burger cook of the future do better than the slow, inefficient, wage-sucking line cooks of yore?

  • It slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles only immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.
  • …custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground after you place your order? No problem.
  • It’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.

Furthermore, the “labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.” Hear that? Without all those cumbersome human workers, your hamburger will be twice as good. For the same cost.


I don’t doubt this is where we’re heading; robots are making inroads in manufacturing, farming, and they’re doing more domestic work around the house, too. Yeah, robots are taking our jobs, and it’s not a question of if, but when and how. Economists often treat the service industry as some last bastion of downsize-proof labor, but, clearly, robots will make sandwiches and take orders, too.


A future where we can get gourmet burgers, cheaply and on the quick, sounds pretty nice. But that future will also have structural unemployment, unless we start taking major strides to rethink and reform how we work in a world where robots are doing much of the heavy lifting. If we can, with robots flipping all the burgers, and the right social policies, maybe at least a semi-techno-utopia is on the way

Of course, in a world of de minimus capital costs (courtesy of an apparently job-creating-mandated Fed), why wouldn't the McDonalds of the world adopt such a strategy. The outcome, as we explained before, is all too obvious...

What happens after that should be clear to everyone: more unemployment, lower wages for the remaining employees, worse worker morale, but even higher profits to holders of capital. And so on. Because in a world in which technology makes the unqualified worker utterely irrelevant, this is what is known as "progress."

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Newsboy's picture

Can I get that with WD-40?

e-man's picture

WD-40=robot's way of spitting in your burger.

Oh regional Indian's picture

The problem with PRO-Gress is that it isn't. Like in-gress, e-gress and di-gress, pro-gress is only for the existing direction of movement, NOT and improvement.

Word-play has us.


Muppet Pimp's picture

We can fully expect a line around the building to buy these burgers by the low information types who shop exclusively at Wal Mart for the low prices and then protest about how much Wal Mart pays their employees.

Richard Chesler's picture

I look foarward to this mechanical contraption paying its fair share.




Radical Marijuana's picture

See the embedded video there about how automation is picking up speed ...

Moreover, there are already computers which are programming themselves.

TruthInSunshine's picture

“In the world I see you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Towers. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighways.”

Bitchez .

flacon's picture

Any and all price-savings for the average man will be gobbled up by the central bankers. That's why 'capitalism' has failed -the central bankers redefined the meaning of the word "capital". 

Hobbleknee's picture

Capitalism does not exist.

CrazyCooter's picture

Seriously ZH? This shit is Ted Kaczynski incarnate. Not one reference in the thread (at all!)

Robot overlords? Something crazy like that?




GetZeeGold's picture




What we really need is AmnestyTM for workers to do the jobs that our robots refuse to......we need to get right on that.

TeamDepends's picture

Can no one esle see the glaring flaw here?  We want fries with that.

kralizec's picture

And super-size that, bitchez!

General Decline's picture

McDonald's has had the automated fry machine for years. I used to instlaa them back in the 90's. the technology needed to make robot fries appears to be a lot simpler than the burger thing.

PT's picture

Here we go again, "If only those horses weren't so slow and lazy, always wanting rest breaks and hay.  Why, if they would only work harder and faster then they never would have been replaced by the motor car".

Here, let me have a try:  
"If only those minimum wage workers worked for even less.  They could get a job selling chocolates and soft drinks on street corners instead of being replaced by vending machines."

"If only the unemployed didn't want so much money.  They could all be self-employed panning for gold in their own back yards ... after they bought a back yard because they were soooooo rich because they worked for even less money."
"Do you realize how many jobs we could create if we eliminated one haul-pack and replaced it with cheap workers carrying iron ore in their backpacks?  And then if only they would swim to China, we could save on ships and create sooooooooo many jawbs!"

"If only builders weren't so greedy, they could be employed for the next year or two building me a mansion."  
"If only engineers, architects and physics professors didn't charge so much, I'd hire a couple to tutor me and a few dozen more to build some really cool stuff.  We'd already have personal flying machines and free energy 'cos that's what I'd pay them to figure out how to build.  Face it,  no way could I do worse than what we already have.  Everyone else has already proven that all they spend their excess money on is hookers and blow.  Fucking unimaginative stupid heaps of shit!"

How about, "I don't give a fuck about jobs.  I want PRODUCTION!"

And by the way, the robots are already here.  Now where is my four hour working week?


CH1's picture

Peaceful technology is to be welcomed.

greatbeard's picture

>> This shit is Ted Kaczynski incarnate.

And there's a problem with that?

GetZeeGold's picture



I don't have a problem with people dropping out and blowing up people....unless it's me of course.

Overfed's picture

Only if they blow up the right people. Which never seems to happen.

SilverIsKing's picture

How about they invent a robotic Smart President? Would be a drastic improvement and we'd save salary, secret service, and multi-million dollar vacation expenses to boot.

Then they can move on to a Smart Attorney General.

The possibilities are endless.

darteaus's picture

They already got dat! It does what it's told: Destroy the US!

Popo's picture

Well... first off this isn't a robot.  

Secondly... there are a whole lot of separate integrated automated systems at work here.  And needless to say... a whole lot of moving parts.

When it works, it will no doubt be awesome.   When it doesn't work... not so much.

James-Morrison's picture

When it doesn't work, I'm sure it qualifies for an EBT card like rest of us.

If you read the fine print, it also must purchase an Obamacare policy.

Even a smart robot won't be able to figure it out...

Four chan's picture

burned bun and upside down, already so far ahead of macdonalds.

Lore's picture

+33D for that outstanding avatar.

quasimodo's picture

Speaking of supersize, that is one avatar I wish that I had that option on.

starfcker's picture

on three, let's all focus on automation, so we don't focus on outsourcing. sheep

PT's picture

+1000 to you Mr starfcker.

... and pay no attention to those over-inflated real estate prices.  Can't a bankster make a dishonest living anymore?

Funny thing is, they write the article as if automation is a bad thing.  Fucking idiots.  Like I said above, I want production, not jobs.  What happened to the robots and the four hour working week???

Then I remembered, I hear Obama has got the hours down to 29 ... 

darteaus's picture

I see the same thing, but through my Nikon M-223 scope just as I'm about to squeeze off a shot.

onelight's picture

I can haz cheezburger?

No, you are the burger..

Wait till someone feeds a cat into that machine..

onelight's picture

LolCat: I can haz cheezburger?

Robotvoice: No, you are the burger..

Wait till someone feeds a cat into that machine..

upWising's picture

If they pay as much attention to detail in building this contraption as they did in their publicity, there will be a quick case of buyer's remorse as it will quickly go on the fritz:

Look carefully at the top line...."Here is the INFORMATOIN on..."

What the FUCK is is like a Bit COIN?  

And when the machine breaks down because it gets wet, gets hot, or just has "issues" (technology never has "problems," only "issues"), will the minimum wage worker who is left be able to "interface" to "facilitate a resolution of the issue?"  Or will it take three days to get a technician out to repair the "labour saving device"?

I wonder on a daily basis how much labour my "labour-saving device" really saves me.

PT's picture

I love automation.  See my comments above.  But I'm wondering how long it'll be before someone builds an automatic burger flipping robot that also buys SUVs, ipods and 52 inch flatscreen TVs.

I've said before that capitalism is two blokes each with a knife to the other's throat:  "I couldn't possibly bleed!  My knife is on his throat, not mine." 

Hang on, forget all that, I'm wrong.  The  "SUV, ipod and 52 inch flatscreen TV" - buying robot is already here and it goes by the official name of "HFT algo".  The advantages of this particular automated customer is that you save an absolute shitload of money on capital expenditure - no factories, no production, no deliveries, no refunds, no revenue to tax ... it just goes straight to the heart of the matter and pumps up your capital gains.

Something like that. 

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I don't know why anyone goes out to buy a fast food burger anyway. With just a little bit of effort anyone can make a stellar burger than no machine could match. Americans are just lazy and their taste buds are less discriminating than in the past. You'd think with all this unemployment people would be rediscovering the beauty of the home cooked meal. Sometimes I think we're living in the movie Wall-e.


sixsigma cygnusatratus's picture

Amen to that!  People don't realize how quick and easy it is to prepare food (including burgers) at home for minimal cost and better nutrition.  And you begin to notice that natural flavor has returned to your food, like it used to be.  I go so far as to grind the beef myself.

Overfed's picture

I buy chuck or siroin roasts when they are on sale and have the butcher grind them for me. The meat from large primals is so much better than the ground beef in a tube.

A Nanny Moose's picture

If the opposite of "pro" is "con", then the opposite of Progress, is...

PT's picture

... and the opposite of constitution is ...

James_Cole's picture

For the love of gawd Tyler needs to stop this inane raising minimum wage / more automation argument.

aphlaque_duck's picture

Do you have a problem with reality?

TDoS's picture

You're right, people should be thankful to their corporate overlords for shit fifty an hour. 

This just in, a San Francisco robotics company just invented a robot that sits in your mom's basement posting zerohedge comments all day.

"Gold bitchez!" "Ron Paul 20--" "Climate Change is a hoax!" "Gold bitchez!" "Obummer is a communist!" "The poor should toil endlessly for whatever the controllers of capital demand!" 

You're all fired.


aphlaque_duck's picture

You can't fire me - I quit six years ago.

But I'm happy to come back and build these machines after your plan implodes.

PT's picture

They crap on about automation as if it is a bad thing.  Do you have a car?  A bicycle?  Or would you prefer to pay someone to give you a piggyback?

PT's picture

How about a big headline, "MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES SPUR AUTOMATION R&D!!!!!"





Did I? 

The Capitalist Review's picture

If you like scooping fries all day, you can keep scooping fries all day.

James_Cole's picture

People seem to have misunderstood my comment, I'm all for automation.

All through history automation has been a constant and makes things better for everyone.

What I have issue with is the very specific argument being puhed these days that a higher minimum wage is forcing automation, totally idiotic.

Anusocracy's picture

You are right, it's not minimum wage.

It's minimum wage, Oblundercare, and dozens of other costs imposed by government.

James_Cole's picture

I guess those were the same ingredients at work during the industrial revolution?