Will a $15 minimum wage, technology make fast-food workers obsolete?

Well, it was inevitable. With politicians, union leaders and community organizers demanding a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers, companies might soon invest in robots to prepare burgers and serve it to their customers. This isn’t an idea of the future, but something that is occurring right now.

Momentum, a robotics company based in San Francisco, California, has produced a burger-preparing machine that can create approximately 360 burgers per hour – it can also receive custom orders and utilize top-shelf ingredients. Here are the specifics as to how it works:

–          Slices your toppings, like tomatoes, onions and pickles, right before it places it on the customer’s burger, which makes it fresh.

–          Each customer has the option of customized meat grinds (half pork, half beef, for example).

–          It’s found to be more sanitary and a lot more consistent than current cooks.

With a machine like this, fast-food restaurants can save a lot of money on labor costs and, therefore, invest their money into high-quality meats, vegetables and other ingredients. The company is already considering the concept of “smart restaurants” that would eliminate human cooks completely.

“Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices. Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant. It does everything employees can do except better,” the company stated in a news release.

It added: “labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.”

Whether it turns out to be successful or not waits to be seen – many grocery stores have implemented self-serve scanning machines, but it didn’t please customers so a significant number of these stores are scaling back.

A company turning to technology to shrink its workforce is quite common to the unintended consequences of higher mandated minimum wage laws because the unskilled, uneducated workers are the first to be eliminated.

Regardless, though, history finds that technology creates more employment because businesses allocate their resources to other parts of the enterprise and new opportunities are established for (educated, skilled?) workers. Heck, new and perhaps even bigger pies are produced (think Microsoft).

In the end, imagine heading into a McDonald’s or any other fast-food joint and ordering a gourmet burger!

The image below is a burger that was created by the machine.

From Momentum

From Momentum

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