San Francisco’s Momentum Machines has been working for several years to develop a robotic system that can make the perfect custom hamburger—cooking the burger, slicing and placing the toppings, even, eventually, grinding meat to order—at the rate of 360 burgers an hour. The company’s aim is to replace the line cook at fast food restaurants. Initially, it plans to set up its own chain of restaurants; eventually, it expects to sell its burger-robot to competitors.
The company recognizes that when a restaurant brings in its system, jobs will be eliminated; it wants the men and women who lose their jobs to become engineers and work to design more automated systems. On the website, the company states: “We want to help the people who may transition to a new job as a result of our technology the best way we know how: education. Our goal is to offer discounted technical training to any former line cook of a restaurant that uses our device. We will certainly need more engineers to design new devices and technicians to service a growing line of automated restaurant solutions. These are the minds that can do this job.”
It also is asking for ideas about other ways it can “help with the transition” as robots replace workers; to submit your thoughts, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.