First, it was automated ordering kiosks. Ok, that makes sense. Easy to take because a human would see your order and fulfill it, making sure you have it your way.
Restaurant owners say this step saves money for the company by eliminating many of the human-related cost of doing business, like the ever-rising minimum wage mandates and worker's comp. It's one way to keep the cost down so they don't have to raise prices for consumers.
With the success of this initial foray into automation in the food service industry, owners were scrambling to find the next area of their businesses in which substituting machine for man would work out to their advantage.
Enter "Flippy," the first-ever robot fry cook who made his debut last week at Caliburger Restaurant in Pasadena, California.
According to John Miller of The Cali Group Corporation, the move will also help with the turnover rate of cook staff. "People come in. We train them. They work on the grill; they realize it's not very fun to work on the grill."
He continues, "It's hot, greasy, requires constant use of your wrists, and so they leave." Not a problem anymore, thanks to this amazing advancement in technology known affectionately as, "Flippy."
The hope is that the high cost of training an ever-changing staff will be reduced thanks to the investment in non-human workers.
Will this move change the way young people gain employment? How many of us had our first jobs in fast-food restaurants? With machines doing the order-taking and now actually cooking the food, where's a 16 year old to go when he has his sights set on buying that brand new Camaro?
Better not rely on Caliburger - or even McDonald's - to help him out!!
Only time will tell if robots like Flippy are here to stay, but one thing's for sure - the way fast food joints do business has changed dramatically and there's no going back. Maybe my son and other teenagers like him can look into tech school and learn how to service these things!! ;-)
*UPDATE: I guess Flippy was too efficient for his own good!
According to Live Science News, Flippy had to be let go. It turns out that he flipped burgers so well, that the human helpers were unable to keep up with him! Oh, well. Back to the drawing board!
But there is some good news for Flippy. After working out the "bugs" in Flippy, robot fry cooks are scheduled to appear in 50 locations by 2019.
To see the report on the rise and fall of Flippy the Burger-Flipping Robot, watch the video, below.