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(upbeat techno music)
- If I walk just a few blocks from this office,
I can find a robot that will make me a latte,
serve me a quinoa bowl, and now there's one
that will make me a custom made-to-order hamburger.
It kinda makes sense when you think about it.
San Francisco is a hub of food, and of technology.
So having new businesses that wanna Techify
their restaurant concepts, makes a lot of sense.
But, when I talk to my coworkers about it, they had
two distinct opinions about robots making their food.
One: - I think it sounds cool.
I would definitely go.
- And the other: - So how does that affect
people working in the city?
- Both of these opinions are completely justified.
But that jobs one is where things get complicated.
Typically robotic restaurants employ plenty of people,
they're just doing different jobs than before.
So instead of flipping burgers or making pizzas,
they're stocking machines, greeting customers,
and just keeping everything in working order.
But I wanted to see this for myself.
So we are gonna head over to Creator,
that robotic burger place that I was telling you about,
and I'm going to see how robots might impact
the future of how we order food.
(upbeat techno music)
- Creator is a new type of restaurant, one
that has one of the most advanced culinary instruments.
This baby back there, it makes literally
the freshest burger ever; we slice tomatoes,
pickles, onions, the bun to-order.
But my favorite part actually grinds the meat to-order,
Which means we make an amazing burger, and it's six bucks.
- [Felicia] This robot isn't what I had imagined.
Instead of a mechanical arm flipping burgers
as we've seen in the past, Creator has built
a 14 foot, all-in-one burger machine
that used 350 censors, and 20 computers.
It takes five minutes to make a burger, start-to-finish.
And, with two machines, the Creator team
can make 130 burgers per hour here at their first location.
- In designing the system, we have a principle
where we wanted to design a device
that would meet nature where it is,
and not make food conform to a robot.
But that causes all kinds of engineering
challenges because food is so different.
For instance, with the hamburger buns,
each one is slightly different sized,
so on the bun system alone there's
seven different laser distance sensors
that are watching every little aspect of it.
Seeing where the buns are, how they're moving, and so forth.
A burger is a composed dish, which means
you need to be able to accurately control
where everything is, where it's going,
and how it comes together, and for that we had to build
a device with a pretty impressive amount of dexterity.
We didn't want something, though,
that just made one kind of burger.
We look at this sort of like a
platform for different recipes.
We wanted as much culinary creativity as possible.
- [Felicia] There is also a proper kitchen,
where employees prep burgers and make sauces and sides.
But since the robots cook and assemble the burgers,
Creator needed less space, meaning less rent,
which leaves more room to invest in their ingredients.
- One of the great things about our operation,
is because it's so efficient, we spend
so much more on the cost of ingredients,
which definitely comes through on the flavor.
So as an example, the beef is whole chunks
of chuck and brisket; it's steak, it's pasture-raised,
there's no antibiotics, no hormones.
- So how did it taste?
Well, I can confidently say that it was
the best six dollar burger that I've ever had,
but I am not a food expert, so I asked
Ellen from Eater, who's one of my coworkers,
what she thought about the burger.
- I think it's a good burger; it's meaty,
it has fresh toppings, the bun is nice,
it's the freshest possible burger, and there's
way fewer times that people are touching your burger.
Think about another restaurant where
every single thing your eating on the burger
has been touched by multiple people.
In this case, the bun goes in the tube,
it gets shot through the machine, it lies the sauce,
it cuts the vegetables to go on the top really freshly,
and makes it, and at the end they hand it to you in a box.
At that point, no one has touched it except for you.
- So yeah, robotic restaurants are cool and interesting,
but there's still that whole jobs thing.
It turns out that the average cook makes
thirty thousand dollars a year salary,
and that also happens to be the mean average rent
of a single bedroom in San Francisco.
Not a one bedroom apartment, just a single bedroom.
- San Francisco is notoriously an expensive place to live,
and that is now creeping into every part of our daily lives.
That include restaurants of course,
but specifically it's making it hard
for restaurant workers to even have a place to live here.
People are edging out into surrounding areas;
that makes commuting long and expensive,
it makes it hard to even walk to work in the city.
A lot of restaurants are experiencing a big struggle
to find people who are even willing to do it.
So in some cases, robots can pick up that slack
and do those repetitive tasks that
humans don't really need to do.
- As it stands today, there are very few restaurants
testing this technology, so there's little threat
of robots taking over any time soon, but
I can see a world where robotic restaurants becomes a thing.
With robots on the line, owners can afford
to pay their staff, and make ends meet,
and the math might just make more sense.
- Even if you can find staff, we've got
very expensive permitting processes
that go on forever, hugely expensive rents which
are not going down anytime soon, and then
minimum wage is also rising, so people who are
operating restaurants have to pay their staff more.
They have a whole lot more overhead and that's
really reflected in the menu prices,
which is part of the reason people are finding
it so expensive to dine out in San Francisco.
- Today, the robot restaurants we've looked at
here in San Francisco, are charging around 20% less
than their human-powered competition.
In there lies the hope, that maybe,
just maybe these robots are a solution.
- It is an exciting future when you think of
all the stuff you can do with better technology
and the restaurant space, which frankly hasn't
seen a lot of improvement over the past several decades.
My expectation is that we're going to see some
pretty exciting new dishes coming out,
maybe even new cuisines, using the dexterity
that you get from some pretty advanced
instrumentation in your kitchen.
- A future with more robotic restaurants might not
be all that bad; we'll have to wait and see.
What do you think about robot restaurants?
Be sure to leave us a comment below,
and also check out our friends over at Eater.
Ellen and some other reporters are doing some amazing
coverage behind the scenes of some really cool restaurants.
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Robot restaurants won’t take your job and food will be better

5471 Folder Collection
Samuel published on July 19, 2018    April Lu translated    Evangeline reviewed
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