Creator, a culinary robotics company designed around a transparent 14-foot-long “culinary instrument” that cooks and assembles burgers to order in under 5 minutes, is set to open in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood in September.
San Francisco is the epicenter of start-up culture. It comes as no surprise that technology and food have been blended to create robot-made hamburgers. In the last several years, California has seen an explosion of robots entering the culinary world, as it has become apparent, new advances in tech are attempting to eliminate low skilled workers from the kitchen.
The robot consists of 20 computers, 350 sensors and 50 actuators that form a robotic assembly line. After the customer places an order with a human, the machine slices buns, tomatoes and onions, grills and grinds meat, adds condiments, sears buns and produces a gourmet hamburger in less than five minutes without any human intervention. The human staff then prepares the order for the customer, adding fries and coleslaw to the plate as they keep an eye on the robot. As shown below, the burger is sent along a conveyor belt, where it gets additional toppings that are all custom ordered.
From start to finish, the entire process takes less than 5 minutes and costs only $6. Maybe this is an attempt to make food affordable to the heavily indebted millennial in California.
Creator’s founder 33-year-old Alex Vardakostas, said in a city of pricey boba drinks and marked up avocado toast, the company’s mission is to enhance food quality and make it affordable. Burgers are $6. “We want everyone to be able to partake,” he said to NPR.
The 2200 sq ft. restaurant looks like an ultra-modern hipster bar with geometric forms in a flowing, open-concept space that emphasizes simplicity and function in the design. Per Selvaag, a lead designer for BMW, was involved with the design of the layout.
Transparency is key and the open kitchen can be viewed from the restaurant with a display glass case highlights every ingredient that goes in or on the burger.
When TechCrunch interviewed Vardakostas in June, the topic of discussion was the the coming collision of automation in the kitchen, as it could displace a lot of low wage workers.
Karen Harris, Managing Director of Bain & Company’s Macro Trends Group, has spent a great deal of time analyzing a range of technologies at or near commercialization, including humanoid service robots, collaborative robots (cobots), drones, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.
She warns that the business environment of the 2020s will be more volatile as automation may eliminate as many as 20 percent to 25 percent of current jobs—equivalent to 40 million displaced workers—and depress wage growth for many more workers.
She said benefits of automation would likely flow to about 20 percent of workers—primarily highly compensated, highly skilled workers—as well as to the owners of capital. The growing scarcity of highly skilled workers may push their incomes even higher relative to lesser-skilled workers. As a result, automation has the potential to significantly increase income inequality and, by extension, wealth inequality.
As for the $6 robot made burgers in SoMa, well, it is great for the broke millennial partaking in the tech bubble but could be devastating for kitchen staff. The collision of automation in the kitchen is here. There will be severe consequences.