Dear Striking Fast-Food Workers: Meet The Machine That Just Put You Out Of A Job

Tyler Durden's picture

Today, U.S. fast-food workers will strike across 270 cities in a protest for higher wages and union rights that they hope will catch the attention of candidates in 2016 elections, organizers said.

The walkouts will be followed by protests in 500 cities by low-wage workers in such sectors as fast food and home and child care, a statement by organizers of the Fight for $15 campaign said on Monday.

The protests and strikes are aimed at gaining candidates’ support heading into the 2016 election for a minimum wage of $15 an hour and union rights, it said.

The strikes and protests will include workers from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King , KFC and other restaurants, the statement said.

And while we sympathize with their demands for higher wages, here is the simple reason why they will be very much futile.

Dear fast food workers of the US - presenting you nemesis: the Momentum Machines burger maker.

According to a recent BofA reported on how robotics will reshape the world, San Francisco start up Momentum Machines are out to fully automate the production of burgers with the aim of replacing a human fast food worker. The machine can shape burgers from ground meat, grill them to order with the specified amount of char, toast buns, add tomatoes, onions, pickles, and finally place it on a conveyor belt.

The robot is shown below. It occupies 24 square feet, and is much smaller and efficient than most assembly-line fast-food operations. It provides "gourmet cooking methods never before used in a fast food restaurant" and will deposit the completed burger into a bag. It does all of this without a trace of attitude.

According to public data, the company's robot can "slice toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible." Unlike human workers, the robot is "more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour" or a burger every 10 seconds.

Furthermore, future generations of the device "will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem."

As the company's website adds, "our various technologies can produce an ever-growing list of common choices like salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, and many other multi-ingredient foods with a gourmet focus."

But most importantly, it has no wage demands: once one is purchashed it will work with 100% efficiency for years. And it never goes on strike.

As the company's co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas told Xconomy his "device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient. It’s meant to completely obviate them."

The company's philosophy on making millions of fast food workers obsolete:

The issue of machines and job displacement has been around for centuries and economists generally accept that technology like ours actually causes an increase in employment.

The three factors that contribute to this are

  1. the company that makes the robots must hire new employees,
  2. the restaurant that uses our robots can expand their frontiers of production which requires hiring more people, and
  3. the general public saves money on the reduced cost of our burgers. This saved money can then be spent on the rest of the economy.

This is a major problem for the US economy, which once built on a manufacturing backbone, has seen the fastest jobs growth in recent years for workers employed by "food service and drinking places" i.e., fast food workers, waiters and bartenders.


Finally, for those complaining that there will be no "human touch" left to take the orders, robots have that covered too:


And now it's time to calculate how many tens if not hundreds of billions in additional welfare spending these soon to be unemployed millions in low-skilled workers will cost US taxpayers.

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junction's picture

Robotics soon coming to websites everywhere.  Zero Hedge writers, you are fired.  Robbie the writing robot will taking your place.

Publicus's picture

You either pay them well, or they become terrorists.


I say we pay them $15 an hour.

nuubee's picture

This invention is HORRIBLE, where will I get my youtube mcdonalds fights between people of a certain ethnicity behind and in front of the fast food counter with these machines??

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Fuck fast food.

Give me slow food.

Home-grown grass-fed beef, slow roasted, with carrots and potatoes from the garden, and a slice of mrs_horseman's freshly-ground wheat bread topped with butter from our family cow, and a glass of her milk.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



The first course was a garden salad.

Have you watched the movie, Food, Inc?

nuubee's picture

I didn't need to. I actively pay attention to how I feel after I eat something. I stopped going to places that made me feel like shit a long time ago.

Shocker's picture

Fast Food has already taken a sales hit in the last few years. This will just top it off, and now put a whole new group of unskilled or lower skilled workers back into the market. Good job

Layoff List:


tmosley's picture

If I could buy one of these, I would actually think about opening a business. The government has made having employees too much of a hassle, but if you can do it all yourself, it's not nearly so bad.

SWRichmond's picture

company making that thing is probably one of the loudest advocates for raising the minimum wage.

El Vaquero's picture

Fuck that.  I had to go down to Las Cruces yesterday and ate at the Buckhorn on the way back.  It's been voted in the top 10 burger joints in the US for a reason.  Right across the street from it is the original Owl Cafe, which has burgers that are almost as good.  If any of you are ever on I25 in sourthern NM, stop in San Antonio NM and eat at one of those places.  It's exit 139. 

Took Red Pill's picture

This is actually an old story, reported over a year ago;

This video shows the machine in action


MagicHandPuppet's picture

If they make this machine mobile, they can juss drive by the projects where all the ex-employees live and drop off fresh fake-beef burgers at their doors so they never have to leave their roach motels. Perhaps the next socialist version of our gubmint will pay for it.

nuubee's picture

Why have people drive it? Get an auto-driving, auto-meat-grinding, auto-food-preparing robot. I'll call it the Terminator, and I'll make millions inflating my customers... until I have no more customers.

Stuck on Zero's picture

The billionaires say we have a labor shortage and that is why we are letting in tens of millions more immigrants.  Could there be a cognitive dissonance in action here?

The Pope's picture

Here we come on the run

with a burger on a bun

& a dab of coke on the side

oh your taste we will tickle

with a cold dill pickle

& all of our potatoes are [FREEDOM] fried ~lol



our burgers can't be beat

cause we grind our own meat



Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble

are to BLAME for all our trouble

& if they think we'll forgive them



Citxmech's picture

The owners of that McDonald's with no less than 5 self-serve pay stations are a bit optimistic I think.  I haven't seen a line at a Micky Ds in years. . . .

BarkingCat's picture

Neither have I, but that could be because I have been inside a Micky Ds in years.... LOL

coinhead's picture
coinhead (not verified) BarkingCat Nov 10, 2015 5:12 PM

Virtualized people do not require "food".  Buh Bitcoin today!

Macchendra's picture

Capital becomes the sole means of production.  It is inevitable.  It won't take brains or effort to make money, only money.  And in case you all are too stupid to realize, "only money can make money" is a very exclusive positive feedback loop.

The9thDoctor's picture

This robot burger machine was decades too late.

We should increase minimum wage to $100 an hour so that way all service level jobs will have to be automated.

I'm completely different than all of the other commenters on Zero Hedge. I hate labor and want to do away with it entirely. I want unemployment to be 100%. I want to abolish the entire monetary system and replace it with a resource based economy. I want robots and machines to do all of the blue collar work, and I want artificial intelligence to do all of the white collar work. This way we would be liberated from labor and liberated from finance. "Money" is just 1s and 0s that Yellen enters into a computer anyway, so to heck with money.

Sounds utopian? Well, I'm posting a comment on here that thousands around the world read on their PC screens, tablet or mobile device, which would have been "utopian" back in 1985.

Debugas's picture

Q: "Money" is just 1s and 0s that Yellen enters into a computer anyway, so to heck with money. Sounds utopian?

A: yes it is utopian. The owners of automated robotic factories will decide that they do not need the rest of population and will simply let it die off. That is your utopia

Victor von Doom's picture

Spot on Debugas. It won't be a Utopian future. It'll be a Distopian one.


PT's picture

Debugas:  Hmmmmmm, what to do?  Ummm, Death?  Or Slavery?  Death?  Or Slavery?  Geeee, I don't know, ummmmm, let  me think about it ....

NoPension's picture

Fat fucks all use the drive thru.

Can't even get their lard asses out of the suv to walk inside to get their slop.

MANvsMACHINE's picture

How long before the machine asks for $15/hour?

Billy the Poet's picture

The machine's demands are simple: "Oil can. Oil can!"

The Pope's picture

How about a little fire, scarecrow?

PT's picture

Why do we still have shops?  Why don't we just have great big vending machines?  Vending machines are oooollld technology, man!

PT's picture

re "How long before the machine asks for $15/hour?" :

Depends on how the manufacturer worded the maintenance contract ...

Save_America1st's picture

I'm surprised the unions haven't attacked and tried to unionize the people who are manufacturing those machines.

I also wouldn't be surprised if they haven't advocated for any of these fast-food workers learning how to build, install, repair or maintain these machines or other automation machines.

That would be too forward thinking I guess for them.

DOT's picture

Picking out one disaster and attributing a cause based on just a few years of observation is BULLSHIT.

With out factoring in Ocean heat transport and cycles such as ENSO all you have is conjecture.

BarkingCat's picture

These people work at fast food joints for a reason.


J S Bach's picture

So, even the "hamburger flipper" jobs are going by the wayside.  What will be left for the disappearing middle class once the bankster confiscation is complete?  I guess there will still be lawns to be mown and dog poop that needs to be scooped up.  I wonder if one will need a college degree for that?  Probably.

eatthebanksters's picture

As cities like the 'Peoples Communist Sanctuary of Berkeley' raise minimum wage to $19/hour, you will see more and more of this....dumb fuckers.

chunga's picture

Places like that might just throw a ban on these machines....or tax the ass off of them.

redpill's picture

Machines don't spit in your food either.

Hyjinx's picture

If you miss that it will be on the menu ;)

MANvsMACHINE's picture

After this machine is put into production, Momentum Machines will then introduce their latest invention.


It's called the Momentum XL1000.  I grinds up ex fast food workers into hamburger meat.



espirit's picture

Want $15 an hour?

Step into machine at right.

Long Pork Burgers to go.

NoPension's picture

Soylent green is people!

Macchendra's picture

Lawn mowing robots are already here.  People who are cheering this on will be like the mom and pop businesses that lost their shirts and homes and are now 80 year old walmart greeters living in apartments they can't afford and eating catfood who used to cheer on reaganomics.  The backlash will be consumers uniting to support employee owned businesses, a.k.a. worker collectives.

PT's picture

Oooooh, reeeeal-ly?  Oh noes.  Gee.  I guess you're right.  I'd better re-attach my ball and chain and wander back into the cotton fields and start picking.  No way could I live without my jawb!!!

Really?  This is all you guys can think of?  You mean, if I built a machine that could feed, clothe and house the world, all you could think of is, "Nup!  Mustn't let this machine exist.  It'll steal our jobs."  What the fuck is wrong with you people?  Machine does your job?  GOOD!  Jobs DON'T matter.  PRODUCTION MATTERS.  And DISTRIBUTION MATTERS.  But all you care about is day-care for adults.  Oh, give them a low-paying menial heap of shit job so they can pretend that they are doing something productive.  Job creation is easy.  Especially low-paid-job creation.  Just abolish one dump truck and make people carry rocks by hand.  Done.  BUT THAT'S NOT VERY SMART, IS IT?  When are you fucks gonna learn that if one man can do the job of ten, then nine men can take the day off.  "Oooooh, that's not fair."  Of course it's not fair.  So hows about we employ one more brain cell and say if one man can do the job of ten, then suddenly people only have to work once every ten weeks and have nine weeks off?  No?  Why not IF the production is there?  Machines were supposed to take our jobs.  That was the whole idea.  We're getting closer to building the uptopia that our ancestors worked for and suddenly everyone wants to scuttle the idea because it would require them to THINK HARDER. 

Let's get real here.  If your job cannot provide you with food, clothing and shelter then it is not a job.  It is dismal daycare for dull adults (No offence - I've been there.  But you gotta admit that you're there because you don't have any better ideas).  If you have to rely on a promotion before you make good money then you are participating in a PYRAMID SCHEME, and what you actually produce is just a distraction from this fact.

Eeek!  The machines will take our jobs that we couldn't offshore!  I'll tell you right now, the machines are doing a hell of a lot more good for this world than offshoring does.  Machines eliminate slaves.  Machines save time.  It is how we manage that time we save that is the problem.  PRODUCTION is a problem.  DISTRIBUTION is a problem.  JOBS are not a problem.

Otherwise you get bizarre "economies" where people are paid to build houses that no-one can afford to buy, while others are homeless and yet more people are paid to destroy those empty homes  ...  oh wait!
Fucking when are people going to start waking up and using their brains?

BarkingCat's picture

I stopped reading you diatribe at the beginning of the second paragraph.

Obviously you have not read what anyone wrote either before blasting out this long tirade.

So let me counter point what I did read - NO ONE here is talking about banning the machines. The only things they have talked about is how the workers are screwing themselves because what they are doing will get these machines into the restaurants much quicker.... so the owners do not have to deal with their demands.

PT's picture

So tell me oh wise one ( and the other ten upvoters ), exactly what wage would a minimum wage worker have to accept in order to save their oh-so-precious minimum wage job from the machines?  Okay, the R&D is obviously already done, capital costs will go down over time as they achieve economies of scale, so now we just need someone to refill the machines and a bit of electricity.  Winning?

Sparehead's picture

The wage should be whatever a worker voluntarily accepted, provided that wage still makes more economic sense than replacing the worker with the machine. Putting aside the insults (on both sides), I think Barking Cat's point was to state demanding unrealistically high wages (through government force presumably) would lead to automation faster than it would happen under free market conditions. The result being a product that costs more than it would have otherwise. Your OP seemed pretty heated and some may have taken that the wrong way. Many of this story’s comments seem to have been written by people that wouldn’t give you an argument on most of what you’d written. I thought you made a good number of valid points, especially as it relates to technological innovation, and unless I missed it you might have also added that the machines would require service and repair technician jobs which while fewer in number would be better higher skilled/higher paid jobs.

PT's picture

Re "...whatever a worker voluntarily accepted, provided that wage still makes more economic sense than replacing the worker with the machine." and that wage would be?

How much does the machine cost?  What are its ongoing costs?  If the main article was a piece of journalism instead of a piece of propaganda then it would answer these questions.  But either way, it still points in the wrong direction.  No jobs?  Good.  Just stop pretending that people have to starve because a machine is now doing their job.  The production is happening.  Production makes us rich.  You want the excess people to earn their position in society before they get a share of production?  Good.  Now maybe others can work less hours per week as they share their jobs.  The fact is that money is not doing the great job of distributing as well as others assert.  The Capitalists would have people working their guts out in return for fuck-all money even though a machine could do the job.