Burger assembling machine

100 per cent robot-made burgers served up in San Francisco

Image credit: Creator/Aubrie Pick

The first restaurant serving entirely robot-made burgers for just $6 (£4.52) is opening in San Francisco.

The entire burger-making process was automated by culinary robotics company Creator. Its founder, Alex Vadakostas, grew up working in his parent’s burger restaurant and came to the conclusion that there had to be a more efficient way of doing the job.

Already, many individual elements of food preparation are automated, although it is a far greater challenge to automate the entire process of preparing a meal.

Creator has passed the entire process over to a 4.3m glass-encased machine, which contains 350 sensors, 50 actuators and 20 computers. The machine begins by grinding fresh meat and seasoning it, then pressing it into a patty. It cooks the patties, cuts and toasts a bun, and prepares toppings: it can dispense precise volumes of eight different sauces and grate different types of cheese over the bun. Finally, it assembles the burger in front of customers.

The burger-making process is entirely overseen by the machine, although human workers are still required in the restaurant to refill the machine and serve the finished burgers. Orders are taken through a tablet, although in the future the restaurant hopes to introduce custom orders via an app, which allows customers to create an endless variety of burgers, even tweaking the precise combination and volume of sauces.

According to Creator, automating the process makes it far more efficient, as well as reducing certain risks (such as passing on a virus from a chef to a customer). Saving on the cost of human labour means that the restaurant can afford to use high-quality ingredients, such as locally baked buns and fresh beef.

The burgers cost just $6 (£4.52), not much more than a burger from a fast-food restaurant in the area.

At present, the machines are not operating at their full speed (one burger every 30 seconds), although the restaurant hopes soon to get it up to full speed and beyond (up to one burger every nine seconds). The restaurant opens next week and is anticipating a lot of interest; diners are required to book tickets online up to a month in advance until it opens to the public in September.

Last year, a burger-flipping robot named Flippy made headlines when plans were made for it to begin work in 50 restaurants in California. Despite Flippy’s impressive abilities – monitoring patties through a computer-vision system as they cook and flipping them appropriately – it was not able to assemble an entire burger.

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