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

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


(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 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.