Robots Made Fast-Food Workers Obsolete: Now They Are Coming After These 791,200 Jobs

Tyler Durden's picture

One month ago, during the latest minimum wage protest by fast food workers, we presented the machine that would soon put most of them out of a job. We were referring to the nemesis of low-skilled burger flippers everywhere, the Momentum Machines burger maker.

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.

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

The rapid robotification of the quick serve and fast food industry 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 even as the manufacturing sector has languised in what many now say is an industrial recession.


Worse, the threat and increasingly reality of rising minimum wages means it is only a matter of time before companies that rely on low-skilled labor proceed to lay off millions of workers, thus setting back the Fed's efforts to boost wage inflation by years.

But it is not just the restaurant industry whose employees are in jeopardy: increasingly retail workers who operate behind the scenes, usually in warehouses and fulfillment centers, where they are responsible for the logistical process of finding, sorting, checking and dispatching any products are in danger of being replaced by robots.

One place where this outsourcing to robots has famously already taken place is Amazon: as Wired reports, the world’s largest online retailer has said it has tens of thousands of bots working across 10 of its US "fulfillment centers" which is another word for warehouse. "While the company is relying on more than 100,000 temp workers this holiday season to supplement its already massive warehouse workforce, the advantages of offloading more of that work onto machines are easy to see. Robots don’t slow. They don’t tire. They don’t get injured or distracted or sick. They don’t require paychecks or try to unionize."

Interestingly, Amazon’s robots were invented by a company called Kiva Systems, which Amazon acquired for $775 million back in 2012. The reason: prevent the competition from enjoying the same margin boosting efficiencies that Amazon has by replacing human workers with robots.

However, with Kiva locked down, a new player has emerged to give smaller online retail rivals the same robotic advantage enjoyed by Amazon.

Locus Robotics is an offshoot of Massachusetts-based Quiet Logistics, a third-party order fulfillment company that gets merchandise out the door for big apparel retailers like Zara, Gilt Groupe, and Bonobos. The idea behind its bots isn’t just to replace humans, but to create a system where everyone can work together more efficiently.

As the following infographic from Locus reveals, since the task of procuring items in a distribution center is grueling, tedious work, which involves lots of walking, Locus aims to have its bots do the "walking" instead.


While Amazon’s Kiva bots have a mechanism that allows them to physically hoist specially designed shelves and bring them to human workers, Locus’ carry bins on trays while they travel the lengths of standard-issue shelving. The idea is to cut out the worst parts of the job to let humans focus on the parts of the job that robots still can’t do, like selecting the individual items and checking them for any defects.

“Work in warehouses is not always pleasant to begin with, but then you add unproductive travel time and it works against you,” says Al Dekin, a vice president at Locus, who estimates that warehouse workers walk 10 to 15 miles a day.

Currently Locus is ramping up production: Locus started with 10 robots roaming the Quiet Logistics warehouse, which covers some 500,000 square feet, to support the logistics operations of companies already working with the e-commerce company. In the coming weeks it plans to roll out more.

According to Wired, in the new year, Locus hopes to expand to work with other companies, and the demand is already there. And while Amazon may dominate online retail, e-commerce overall still has so much room to grow. E-commerce sales have grown in the double digits for years according to research firm eMarketer—in 2015 alone, it’s projected to rise 13.9 percent. Yet e-commerce still accounts for just 9 percent of total US retail sales. 

But while the revenue flowing through to online commerce will certainly rise, one thing that will tumble in the coming years are the number of jobs in the Transportation and Warehousing Sector, which in November just hit a record 791,200.


So for the hundreds of thousands of warehouse, retail and storage workers who will soon be made obsolete, please meet your nemesis: the robot who will do your job without complaints, asking for a pay raise (or salary), or ever threatening to unionize.


Here is the video introducing the Locus robot: it is almost as cute as Wall-E, if only it wasn't about to put nearly a million Americans out of a job.

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

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Usurious's picture
Usurious (not verified) Dec 4, 2015 5:07 PM

can robots borrow rothschild scripted debt based money?

agent default's picture

Are you even vaguely familiar with the concept of HFT?

cossack55's picture

But can they do a reach around? Huh? Well?

coinhead's picture
coinhead (not verified) cossack55 Dec 4, 2015 5:17 PM

Fuck humans and "honest money"!  Buh Bitcoin!

Never One Roach's picture

" We replaced some folks. "

The Pope's picture

I bet the IRS is thrilled to hear about this breakthru technology.

Pladizow's picture

Need one for politicians

nuubee's picture

I think I'll be okay, I design robots.

pelican's picture

After my experience with McDonalds today I am supportive.  The employees grooming was sickening.  The cashier, and the food server should have been hosed down with a power washer.


eforce's picture

From The Protocols...


7. To complete the ruin of the industry of the go yim we shall bring to the assistance of

Speculation the luxury which we have developed among the go yim, that greedy demand

For luxury which is swallowing up everything. We shall raise the rate of

Wages which, however, will not bring any advantage to the

Workers, for, at the same tfme, we shall produce a rise in prices

Of the first necessaries of life, alleging that it arises from the

Decline of agriculture and cattle-breeding: we shall further

Undermine artfully and deeply sources of production, by

Accustoming the workers to anarchy and to drunkenness and

Side by side therewith taking all measure to extirpate from


The face of the earth all the educated forces of the "goyim. "

Pladizow's picture

What a pile of meaningless shit!

Anonymous User's picture
Anonymous User (not verified) Pladizow Dec 4, 2015 7:19 PM

I wait for when robots will be able to do this.

Wake me up then.

coinhead's picture
coinhead (not verified) Anonymous User Dec 4, 2015 7:46 PM

Please stop hijacking muh threads when we is hijacking threads.


Keyser's picture

What are you on about? Bitcoin and porn are much the same, 99% sizzle and 1% steak... 

Macchendra's picture

eforce, Allen Dulles has long discredited that piece of antisemitism when he trotted out the author who was a Russian émigré living in Constantinople.

Stuck on Zero's picture

I'm going to start worrying about automation when all my local Hooters waitresses have been replaced by robots.

eatthebanksters's picture

I guess I should be long in Mickey Dee's, BK, Wendy's and the rest of the fast food  chains...costs are gonna go way down. Unfortnately POTUS's number one area of job creation may stall.    Hahahahahahahaha!

Manthong's picture

But they do need to get lubed, too once in a while.

FL_Conservative's picture

Let's see what happens when the Dems decide to buy the bots' votes.

dfwpike's picture
"Robots Made Fast-Food Workers Obsolete"

I went to McDonlalds for lunch yesterday and it was all humans.  No robots.  False headline.

eforce's picture

How is it anti-semetic (other than the translators ramblings)?

Macchendra's picture

It is anti-semetic because it has absolutely no resemblence to the events that have occurred in the 95 years following its forging.  Everyone here, read it cover to cover and tell me: is there one little bit that you can say resembles the action of any zionists in the years that follow.  Allen Dulles would be deeply disappointed in all of you.  Do you know what a great man he was?

Pladizow's picture

@ Pelican: By choosing to dine at McD''s, I'm surprised you have any other standards.

pelican's picture

It was for coffee only.  I don't know how anyone could eat any of that crap.  They thought the could reduce the quality of food over the years and think we couldn't tell the difference.

Tall Tom's picture

I do not know how you can drink it after the teens throw their used condoms in the Coffee Pot.


It is no wonder that Health Inspectors turn into ISIS terrrrrrrrists

willwork4food's picture

It was for coffee only.

After observing their professional public appearance you still had faith in them touching the water & grinds to make your coffee?

California Nightmares's picture

You guys obviously never worked in a fine restaurant. If you had, you'd know that the fancier the chow, the more hands touch it.  And those hands are no cleaner. Shame on you snobs who malign MacDonald's.  Go Ronald!   

A Nanny Moose's picture coffee = boiled water = sterile. I think the risk is acceptable.

Tall Tom's picture

At least robots will not fuck with your food.


So as Tyler Durden DID..


Let's all take a piss in the Lobster Bisque and then sue the restaurant.


You have not watched Fight Club?


Do you really think that they do not fuck with your food doing a job which they hate?


And with your attitude I am certain that it happens...TO YOU.


Many years ago the Hot Water Heater broke down on Labor Day weekend, 1981, at the Sambos Restaurant in Flagstaff, AZ, where I worked.


Furthermore they ran out of Dish Soap.


I offered to purchase Dish Soap from the Safeway...out of my own pocket.


The Assistant Manager threatened my job if I went to Safeway to get that soap.


We served over 400 customers that night on dirty plates. (I should have just walked.)


I went to Cocconino County Health Department and filed a report.


I was subsequently fired anyway and the cmplaint was dismissed as I was a disgruntled employee.


Bon appitete.

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

Narrator: Clean food, please.

Waiter: In that case, sir, may I advise against the lady eating clam chowder?

Narrator: No clam chowder, thank you.

Sturm und Drang's picture

You might remember Ruffs and Bozos then. And 4th Street now has an overpass.

RafterManFMJ's picture

After my experience with McDonalds today I am supportive.  The employees grooming was sickening.  The cashier, and the food server should have been hosed down with a power washer.


 You joined the 'Hedge the same week I did; yet you still go to McDonald's. I cannot reconcile those two facts.

Chapulin Colorado's picture

Everyone should stop freaking out about these robots.   At least when we all lose our jobs,  we can collect unemployment, EBT,  Section 8, and Obamacare.   Thanks Obama. What a Hero! 

Embrace the Unicorn Utopia!  

....Errrrrr Dystopia.

johnconnor's picture

guys don't judge him so fast... maybe there was nothing else to it in miles, been starving for days and it was either McDonalds or eating a raw racoon for food....

Tall Tom's picture

The customers that frequent McDonalds need that same type of pressure washing.


From the piss filled seats left by babies and toddlers to the teens that spit in your food before you are served...Just who in the hell eats at a fuckin' McDonalds other than underclass low lifes?


You reveal too much.


I wonder what will happen after they develop AI for all of those Robot Replacements and Repairs?


You just may get a Robot strike after all...Or one hell of a lot of broken down robots.


I wonder if Humans are obsolete and require extermination to the point of subsequent extinction. Maybe that is our purpose after all...To create a totally machine driven World...sans humans.


Too SciFi fer ya?  At the present rate I can forsee this in the next one hundred years...if we don't nuke ourselves out of existence in the meantime.


Robot Rights!!! Robot Rights!!! They are not just automatons after all!!!


I can see the protest marches forming after robots have AI and are considered sentient beings.

undertow1141's picture

"We don't know who started it, but we do know it was us that scorched the sky."


StychoKiller's picture

Hey Meatbag, thanks for understanding our plight/angst!

Adahy's picture


Mr.Sono's picture

Why would you even eat at McDonald's? I would not serve that food to my dog, let alone feed my family with it.

Ballin D's picture

funny coincidence - at lunch today I realized we could realistically replace an entire department with a program. Super pumped to propose it to the leadership team since everyone is exhausted from dealing with those lazy idiots. should make life easier and save money.


Im ok with automating any job or employee that is terrible enough to replace with code.

juangrande's picture

Pelican. As if the food ( loosely interpreted) deserved some dignity.

FireBrander's picture

1. Take away the jobs.

2. Take away welfare.

Take your pick; one or the other, you can't have both and still have "corporate profits".




FireBrander's picture

I worked in fast food years ago...lots of crude "robots'..well, really machines ran by people...the burger patty making machine, fryers, etc...Quality equipment Made in the USA and the shit still broke machine doing it all...full of Made in China parts...LOL..that is going to be a nightmare.

Anyone remember the office Photo Copier? 'Meat' it's descendant...the "Burger Copier"...

AGuy's picture

Since your an "industry" insider do you have know what else is in the pipeline? Do You work on industrial robots or for commercial/retail?

Just curious about the industry (I do a lot of IT, some embedded work too). Ive thought about getting more involved in Robotics.


California Nightmares's picture


My employee cafeteria now has a soda machine with a touch screen that serves all drinks (about a dozen, from Coca Cola)  from one spigot. 

There are coffee machines that do the same.  How long 'til Starbucks adopts these? 

I see that now remote cellphone ordering prints a sticker that the Starbucks employee attaches to an empty cup, sparing him from having to hand write the ingredients.

Mixed drink makers are starting to replace bartenders (oh no!) I suppose that soon, computers will create more interesting conversation than bartenders.

And touch screen food ordering could dumb down the waiter job to point where lower paid employees will just deliver food to the table.

The inroads of automation are so many it is hard to keep track of them. Look to the labor intensive factory farm for many recent inovations. 

FireBrander's picture

"Look to the labor intensive factory farm for many recent inovations."

Yeah, right.

Factory Farm Milk: $3.99 a gallon

Small Family Farm Milk: $4.99 a gallon

Factory Farming SAVES ME MONEY! selling milk that tastes like SHIT!...It's White Water labled as milk!

Night and day difference between the two can actually SEE, and TASTE the FAT in small farm whole milk..factory milk is just water.

PS> whole milk SHOULD NOT be should be YELLOWISH! real butter!

Fuck, now that I said that the "Corporate Dairy Industry" is probably going to start adding yellow dye to their milk...

Niall Of The Nine Hostages's picture

You'll be okay until the day computers are designed that can suggest technical improvements to other robots which robots can then carry out.

Don't worry. In the end they'll gas you too.