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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.

(upbeat techno music)

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B1 US burger robot robotic creator san francisco francisco

Robot restaurants won’t take your job and food will be better

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    Samuel posted on 2018/07/12
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