Is the Future of the Kitchen Being Tested Commercially?

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Smart home devices continue to advance, but they are still not autonomously able to serve us up things like our dinner. Is that all going to change soon?

We’ve all seen the images of the “future” presented in days-long-gone cartoons and sci-fi movies. There are robot assistants that have progressed much further than today’s smart home speakers; the robots can move on their own, have conversational interactions, and basically be task rabbits for their owners.

We’re not there yet…but we might be getting there by way of the gourmet burger industry. That’s right, there is now a place where a robot will make your hamburger.

The burger joint, called Creator, has launched on a limited, invite-only basis in San Francisco, and expects to open to the general public in the early Fall. This unique restaurant will have a robot-run kitchen, with humans only working the registers and serving the food.

The gourmet burger is affordable at only $6 (where other gourmet burgers could run you almost $20), but don’t let the “cheapness” fool you; Creator maintains that they are committed to the quality of the food, and that using a robot in the kitchen helps them in that mission.

The mechanical-arm based chef at Creator assembles and cooks custom burgers, including grinding the meat and slicing fresh toppings on demand – a process which takes about five minutes. Creator claims that their team is saving money on space and operations, and that allows them to spend more money on the best ingredients and really focus their efforts on resources that produce a quality burger.

While some naysayers wonder if this advancement is just creating a solution for something that wasn’t a problem, Creator isn’t wrong that a robotic chef can produce faster and more consistently than a human worker. This is attractive to restaurants because it helps them maintain their reputation and manage customer expectations (not to mention decreases wait times).

Others have a hard time believing that already financially strapped restaurants aren’t going to be on board with the initial costs of a robot chef, even if they are trying to find ways around a potential minimum wage increase to $15 per hour. While robots would certainly have maintenance costs, training and turnover costs would be eliminated.

While Creator and its mechanical robot are getting a lot hype, this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen this type of product. A burger cooking and flipping robotic arm called Flippy was introduced recently from Miso Robotics.

With robots now replacing commercial kitchens, how long will it be until this technology is adapted for smart residential kitchens? I know that I’d be OK with having a screen that allows me to “place an order” in my home that activates a robot which makes my meals. Even better, I can’t wait until I can place my order remotely so that it is waiting for me when arrive home from work, school, the gym, or wherever.

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